Participants were called to “Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back.” at Relay for Life this past Friday and Saturday, which is precisely what they did. Through 12 hours of rallying and relaying, Taylor County residents took a stand against cancer.
According to the Relay for Life website, more than 60 teams participated in this year’s event, raising $130,034.85. The event lasted from 6:30 p.m. on Friday to 6:30 a.m. Saturday on ACU’s soccer fields.
During the event teams are asked to keep at least one of their members on the track, because “cancer never sleeps.” The absence of a finish line also served as a symbol in the walk, showing spectators that activists wouldn’t stop fighting until there was a cure for cancer.
Many ACU students took initiative and created their own teams for this year’s event. Courtney Martin, junior youth and family ministry major from New Braunfels, organized a team with her residents of Nelson Hall 2nd East. Through a bake sale set up in the Campus Center they earned $200. They also sold t-shirts with their team name, “The Mighty Ducklings,” for more money to put towards cancer research. As of last Thursday, the team had earned $1,725, beating their goal by $725.
Ali Stratton, freshman nursing major from Beaumont, heard about the relay and decided to join The Mighty Ducklings in its campaign.
“I’ve never been to this before, but it’s really cool seeing a tragedy like cancer bringing people together,” Stratton said. “This lets people connect with others that have been affected as well, so people know they’re not alone.”
As a Relay for Life tradition, the event started off with the celebration of the Survivor Lap. That lap, along with the silence lap for those who passed away, are favorites to many participants, including Destinee Martinez, sophomore nursing major from Tomball, who organized team Laps on Laps on Laps.
Dystanie Douglas, freshman Ad/PR major from Fort Worth, walked alongside Martinez with team Laps on Laps on Laps, in remembrance of her close friend who lost a battle to brain cancer in 2010.
“I thought the survivor walk was the coolest part so far,” Douglas said. “It showed other spectators who had survived the fight, and served as a sign of triumph in the battle against cancer.”
Later, in the Luminaria Ceremony hundreds of decorated bags lit up the track course in remembrance of loved ones people had lost. This allowed younger kids or older family members that couldn’t make it to the walk to participate by writing on a bag that would be displayed later in the ceremony. Martin said the bags usually spell out a word, and is “probably the most moving moment” of the entire event.
The relay filled the north side of campus with laughter, people strolling hand in hand, social clubs gathering for a greater cause and children selling homemade lemonade or candy bars for a few cents. Even if it was only for a night, the ACU community extended beyond its staff and students to gather those affected by cancer in a heartfelt embrace of support and participation.
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