Community relays for life in arena

Members of the fraternity APO formed a team to participate in the American Cancer Association’s Relay for Life.  (Shinnell Burroughs | The Oswegonian)
Members of the fraternity APO formed a team to participate in the American Cancer Association’s Relay for Life. (Shinnell Burroughs | The Oswegonian)

Members of the Oswego community came together to raise money for cancer research and show support for survivors during Relay for Life.

On Saturday, Relay for Life took place in the Campus Center Arena. Relay for Life is an overnight fundraising event where teams of people camp out around a track. Team members take turns continuously walking around the track. This year, Oswego State’s Relay for Life raised over $29,928.11 including online contributions and had over 600 participants. There was food, games, activities and contests all night and morning long.

“This year we had a tremendous increase in involvement with community and faculty, which is important because we want to expand relay to include as many members of the community as possible,” Karly Babcock co-president of Colleges Against Cancer said.

“It is hard to get emotions out of the way during this event,” Tina Buckingham, co-vice president of CAC and Relay for Life co-chair said, “But creating this event is worth it because I get to see the smiles of people’s faces.”

“It’s amazing to see how much the event has grown in the last few years,” Kelsey Kostoroski, co vice president of CAC and co chair of Relay for Life said. “There are 100 more people and seven more teams than last year. It is important to remember that if you are driven enough, you can make a difference.”

Each relay has three special events: the survivor lap, luminaria ceremony and the fight back ceremony. The survivor lap gives all cancer survivors at the event the chance to celebrate their victory by taking the first lap around the track. Other participants who line the track cheer the survivors on. At this time, Relay for Life recognizes participant’s family, friends, neighbors, coworkers and loved ones who have fought or are fighting cancer. The luminaria ceremony takes place after dark. Candles are lit inside personalized bags that are placed around the track. Participants silently walk around the track honoring those who have been affected by cancer. Lastly, the fight back ceremony gave participants the opportunity to discuss why they chose to take part in Relay for Life. This ceremony represents the commitment each participant has to fight cancer.

Over 600 participants came together in the Campus Center Arena to fundraise for Relay for Life.  (Shinnell Burroughs | The Oswegonian)
Over 600 participants came together in the Campus Center Arena to fundraise for Relay for Life. (Shinnell Burroughs | The Oswegonian)

“Relay for Life symbolizes the life of a cancer patient,” Lindsey Johnson, co-president of Colleges against Cancer (CAC) said. “The event begins at 6 p.m., during dusk, which represents the darkness loved ones feel when they or their loved ones are told they have cancer. Participants then walk around the track all night showing how cancer never sleeps. At 6 a.m., the sun begins to rise, which symbolizes the hope that all cancer patients and survivors have.”

According to the American Cancer Society, Relay for Life was created in May 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt walked and ran for 24 hours around a track in Tacoma, Wash. The event raised $27,000 for the American Cancer Society. One year later, 340 people joined in support of the event. Since then, Relay for Life has grown into a worldwide event that has raised over $5 billion to fight cancer.