A virtual shantytown of tents, sleeping bags, and blankets littered the floor of the CSU Student Recreation Center’s floor as students camped out in the cavernous gym and watched their fellow students walk seemingly endless laps on the track above.
Fraternities, sororities, residence halls, businesses, clubs and students from around the university stayed up late and walked the center’s indoor track for the third annual CSU Relay for Life. From 8 p.m. until 8 a.m. relay team volunteers circled the one-eighth of a mile path to raise money for cancer research. At least one member of each relay team was on the track at all times.
Jeff Rosenberry, the event chairperson for Colleges Against Cancer, said that the experience “simulates the life of someone with cancer because cancer never sleeps.”
Relay for Life was started in 1985 after Dr. Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma surgeon, was inspired to raise money for his local ACS office. A marathon runner, Klatt spent 24 hours on the track at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, running more than 83 miles. Friends paid Klatt $25 to run or walk with him and by the end of his grueling experience he raised $27,000.
This was CSU’s third and most successful year hosting a Relay for Life. Last year, 13 teams registered and raised $8,500. This year 42 teams participated and raised over $26,000. Rosenberry, who is a cancer survivor himself, said that the money raised goes directly to the American Cancer Society and the money will help fund cancer research.
Students have been fundraising for the event for weeks and Rosenberry said that the relay is more like “the party after the fundraising.” The theme for this year’s relay was “Lights, Camera, Take Action.”
The Relay for Life Web site states that one in three people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime and many of the students involved with the relay shared a common experience: Knowing someone with cancer.
Alyssa Malone, a freshman microbiology major, said her grandmother was diagnosed with cancer. Michelle Jordan, a Kappa Delta sorority sister, walked the relay with her mother Anne Jordan, a 13-year survivor of colon cancer. These types of stories were common among the participants.
Off the track, students passed the time playing a variety of games. Card games, live music performances, hula hooping, basketball, football and jump roping added to the festival of activity in the ramshackle settlement as students kept themselves awake and energized.
Kyle Carter, the event co-chairperson, said that the goal of the relay was to “bring awareness to cancer.”
“We show our respect for survivors, we care for the people who have gone through it,” Carter said.
Marc Lubick, a CSU football coach and son of Sonny Lubick, gave an account of his cancer journey.
Marc Lubick is a four-year survivor of a rare form of cancer, Rhabdomyosarcoma, which attacks the lymph nodes. He said cancer was the last thought on his mind and he had no reason to get it, “but it still happened to me.”
To treat the disease, Marc Lubick underwent a surgery that temporarily removed his internal organs and went through six months of chemotherapy.
“The scariest thing was the unknown,” he said. “Life is a gift; it’s not a guarantee.”
After Marc Lubick’s speech, survivors walked their own lap alone, with the hundreds of students applauding them the whole way.
“They are the Heroes of hope,” Rosenberry said.
Staff Writer Stephen Lin can be reached at email@example.com.