April 7th, two Saturdays ago, was WashU’s Relay for Life. This is an event which is held at high school and college campuses nation wide in order to raise money for the American Cancer Society. The idea is that you start Relay some time in the evening (ours was at 6pm) and end when the sun is rising (around 6 am).
It is centered around the track, and participants are free to walk around for as long as they want or can. Survivors and supporters alike power through from darkness to light, symbolizing the hard work and reward of battling cancer.
While the event lasts twelve hours, a majority of people will stay for just a while. There are a bunch of other activities besides the track to help keep the crowds entertained — sports competitions, a hypnotist, a silent rave, and of course the main attractions, free food including (but not limited to) Chik fil A, Insomnia Cookies, and Noodles & Co.
Although I originally intended to stay for only an hour or two, I ended up staying much longer. I came to support my friends, and sell raffle tickets to participants for prizes, and I was honestly was having a great time.
While the sports and all of that are fun, at its core, Relay is a serious and moving event, especially the Lumanaria Ceremony. This includes lighting candles in decorated bags in honor of loved ones who have battled cancer. Watching my friends who had worked so hard for Relay, and being able to participate myself, I realized how lucky I am to have never lost a loved one to cancer. It was truly an eye-opening experience.
After the ceremony, I felt even more proud of the Relay committee for raising over $144,000 dollars for cancer research. My peers at WashU continue to impress me every day, and I feel confident that they are going to do BIG things… most of them already are!