Students and community members marched against cancer all night long at the 13th annual Relay for Life.
Saturday night’s fundraiser, which took place in the Events Center, raised money for cancer treatment and research through the American Cancer Society (ACS).
More than 1,000 participants camped out in the building for 12 hours from Saturday night to Sunday morning, commemorating cancer victims and playing games in an effort to stay awake through the night.
According to events chair Tyler Degener, the event raised $50,000.
Team SSKAM raised $3,700, the most out of the 92 participating teams. Dyana Beretz raised the most money as an individual, contributing $3,200.
Degener said he was pleased with the event and the variety of teams that came to participate for a universal cause, but he added that there is also room for improvement. Other campuses raise over $100,000 and have thousands of attendants.
“Relay is the campus’ largest fundraising event by far, but most people on campus don’t know that,” Degener, a senior majoring in biology, wrote in an email. “The money goes to the ACS which is the country’s largest allocator of cancer research funds other than the US government.”
Attendees grew emotional during the “luminaria,” a memorial event during which speakers who were affected by cancer spoke about their experiences. After, the lights were dimmed and there was a slideshow commemorating those lost to cancer as well as celebrating those who survived it.
Degener said he felt a connection to the event since he lost his grandfather to cancer five years ago. The slideshow included a picture of his grandfather and grandmother on their prom night.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the gym, myself included,” Degener wrote. “I was just happy enough to have my mom come down to share that moment with me, it being my last Relay, and us losing my grandfather.”
The event concluded with a survivor lap, where all participants walked around the track in silence to reflect on their experience at Relay for Life.
Kimberly Hoffman, captain of the Delta Phi Epsilon team, wrote in an email that the experience was emotional for her as a recent cancer survivor.
“I led the survivor lap and was so glad to have my sorority’s full support,” wrote Hoffman, a senior majoring in human development. “They are always behind me and have supported me in my entire journey with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.”
Degener said that cancer is a universal issue for which everybody can help raise awareness.
“If you don’t have a family member affected by it, you most likely have a friend, or a coworker, or classmate that is,” he wrote. “And it’s that universal ‘bond’ that everyone has with cancer, that should be the motivating force to END it, join Relay and the ACS, and kick cancer’s ass once and for all.”