Annual Relay For Life to bring the fight to cancer

The goal for this year’s Relay For Life is to raise $100,000 for the American Cancer Society.

The American Cancer Society’s (ACS) “Relay For Life” is an event that has been taking place around the world since 1985 and on the USF campus for over a decade.

With the purpose of funding ACS and bringing awareness to the widespread disease that is cancer, the USF Relay For Life of 2018 will be taking place on April 7-8 at the USF track stadium. Over 1,000 people are expected to participate.

The event will consist of ceremonies, activities, food and speakers who have been affected by cancer in some way. Kiley Mills, Vice President of Development, said the fight against cancer unites people because most people know someone who has dealt with the disease.

“It doesn’t matter their background or where they’re from,” Mills said. “Everyone has been touched by cancer in some way in some point in their life.”

The 12 hour walk and fundraising experience is meant to be a visual representation of a cancer patient’s journey through treatment.

Nithin Varghese, the logistics director for the Relay Council, said the the designated time allows participants to symbolize the experience that a cancer patient endures.

“We go through the night, which is (survivors) going through the rough part of it,” Varghese said. “Then we emerge in the morning and it’s them (patients) finally getting past the rough part.”

As students stay awake throughout the event, Relay For Life will have four ceremonial activities with speakers geared toward  keeping students, cancer survivors and community members engaged throughout the night.

While the Luminaria Ceremony will be the part that allows participants to remember the lives lost to cancer, the Fight Back Ceremony will be starting at midnight for the purpose of motivating participants who may get tired to continue fundraising. Lauren George, the president of the organization, said the Fight Back Ceremony is supposed to help participants power through the event.

“The Fight Back Ceremony is meant to really give you that push and motivation,” George said. “The survivor that usually (speaks) is someone who has overcome this battle or someone who is still in the process of fighting.”

Along with the other ceremonies and the Closing Ceremony at 5:30 a.m., USF Relay For Life will also be providing food for cancer survivors and for participants who choose to come out.

Mills said the set goal for this year’s Relay For Life is $100,000 and that she’s hopeful the event will be able to reach the goal, but if not, the fundraising is ongoing until August.

“So, we’re hoping to get to 100K by our event, but that may not happen,” Mills said. “Usually, we get to about $60,000 but we can continue to fundraise until August.”

The Relay fundraiser has already passed the $30,000 mark, which equates to about 12 weeks in cancer research. For students who wish to participate, there is a $5 registration fee with the ‘Relay18’ code.

Students are still given the chance to raise funds even if they can’t attend the 12 hour long event. Whether it’s through donations on the USF Relay webpage or registering, students who cannot go still can help.

“Relay For Life is all about raising awareness and funds for cancer,” Varghese said. “I think it’s really important that all students come out to learn more about cancer research as well as hear the speakers.”