For one night each year, University of Toledo’s Recreation Center is filled with a different crowd than usual. For 12 hours, students and community members come together to raise money for cancer research.
“This event is all about remembering those who lost their lives to cancer, honoring the cancer survivors, and supporting those who are still battling the fight,” said Olivia Cross, vice president of Relay for Life. “All of the money fundraised for Relay for Life is donated to the American Cancer Society.”
The event is on Dec. 1 from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. on Dec 2.
Currently, there are over 14.7 million people in the United States living with cancer. According to Cross, Relay for Life has been at UT since 2001 and continues to grow every year.
“It was awesome experiencing my first Relay here at The University of Toledo,” said Wendy How, advisor for Colleges Against Cancer and Relay for Life. “I was amazed with the energy, excitement, hard work and motivation from all of the students who were involved and all of the community support.”
The event starts out with a celebration of cancer survivors and transitions into a ceremony honoring loved ones halfway through the night. Relay for Life, not only gives back to those in need, but it also provides a fun-filled night for all those involved.
Along with competitions like lip sync battles and a pageant, other fun events include a silent disco, inflatables, food and games.
“We also hold a luminaria ceremony where survivors walk a lap around the track and the luminaria bags are all lit up,” Cross said. “At the ceremony, people in the audience are able to come on stage and talk about their personal experiences to everyone. It is a very sentimental and intimate time that is indescribable.”
Not only does this event take place in Toledo, but also happens across the nation.
“Relay for Life is held in over 5,000 communities and 26 countries,” said Allison Boesel, the community development manager for the American Cancer Society in the North Central region. “The events celebrate the cancer survivors in our lives, remember the loved ones we’ve lost and fight back against this disease that we’ve all been affected by.”
Although all participants involved in Relay for Life haven’t been affected by cancer, Cross’s aunt struggled with cancer, and Howe is a cancer survivor herself.
“My aunt Judy died from cancer and my grandpa has just been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer,” Cross said. “This event is so important because cancer touches the lives of everyone. I am lucky enough to wake up every morning healthy and not have to go to the hospital for an 8-hour chemo treatment.”
Boesel shared that the American Cancer Society has been successful in helping families fight their battles.
“The American Cancer Society has been a part of so many great breakthroughs that have helped my friends and family that have been affected. So I want to keep supporting that mission to hopefully save more lives,” Boesel said.
All those involved with Relay for Life encourage students to attend and help support a great cause.
“We can all relay for those individuals who can't,” Cross said.