Record participation, fundraising marks sixth annual Relay For Life

Becky Olles

With more participants and teams than ever before, Northwestern’s sixth annual Relay For Life has so far raised more than $100,000 for the American Cancer Society.

About 750 people participated in the 12-hour relay, held in the Sports Pavilion and Aquatics Center from Friday night to Saturday morning. The event started at 6 p.m. and ended at 6 a.m. on Saturday.

The event has made progress on campus, already raising $10,000 more than last year’s relay, said Jennifer Long, one of the event’s co-chairs. Donations can be made until August 31, so organizers will not know the total amount raised until then, she said.

“This is only the second year we held it in SPAC,” the Weinberg senior said. “A lot more people came to visit this year, so our presence on campus has grown.”

Team Seyfarth Shaw, named after the law firm at which the participants work, raised the most money: $10,000. Dave Rowland, a cancer survivor and team member, said the team had about 100 people “tag-teaming” the event throughout the night.

“It’s something that we started doing as a firm five years ago,” he said. “This is my fifth year of surviving and my fourth year of walking, because I wasn’t able to walk the first year.”

At 6 p.m. Friday, the 77 teams began to arrive and settle on the gym floor. One hour later, the opening ceremonies began with McCormick Prof. Bill White, who spoke about his experience working with the American Cancer Society as the chairman of the Illinois state organization and eventually as part of the national board.

“During that time I was healthy as could be, and as soon as I was moving on to something else a year later, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer,” he said. “I am very happy to tell you tonight that 14 years later I am lucky to be a cancer survivor.”

White led the survivors in a lap around the track as those watching gave them a standing ovation.

Weinberg sophomore Zachary Hayden was one of the survivors to walk around the track.

“I didn’t really expect it,” he said. “I thought it was a little awkward at first, but as I was walking around the track it was kind of cool to hear all of the applause.”

Throughout the rest of the night and into the morning, members from each team walked around the track while student groups including Deeva Dance Troupe, the Undertones and Tonik Tap performed. When they weren’t walking, team members could play games, such as water pong, flip cup and tug-of-war.

At 9 p.m. at the tennis courts, the Luminaria Ceremony of Hope took place with the lighting of candles inside decorated bags to represent those who have won or lost a battle with cancer.

NU students who attended Relay For Life came for different reasons.

SESP freshman Connie Chang said her parents originally motivated her to participate in high school as a “good opportunity to do community service.”

“Then last year my mom actually got cancer, and she’s a survivor,” she said. “I’m doing this for her, too.”

Jennifer Haag and other residents of the Residential College of Cultural and Community Studies used the event as a chance to bond with other members of the residential college.

“It’s a really good way to do a little bit of service, and our dorm is based on the theme of community service and cultural studies,” the McCormick sophomore said. “It’s a really good event for us to do together.”

Relay co-Chair Allan Cheng said he hopes Relay For Life will have a larger impact on campus in the future.

“I know Northwestern is mainly known by Dance Marathon, and every year we try to compete and become more well-known around campus,” the McCormick senior said. “Hopefully one day we’ll be in the same status as they are.”

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