The Daily Northwestern

Relay for Life surpasses fundraising goals as 600 Northwestern students participate

Men’s basketball center Alex Olah makes a lay-up on Friday evening at the annual Relay for Life event at SPAC. The men’s basketball team was present to support a knockout competition held for Relay participants.

Kai Huang/The Daily Northwestern

Men’s basketball center Alex Olah makes a lay-up on Friday evening at the annual Relay for Life event at SPAC. The men’s basketball team was present to support a knockout competition held for Relay participants.

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More than 600 Northwestern students came together Friday night to participate in Relay For Life, an event dedicated to raising money and awareness for the American Cancer Society.

Throughout the night, students walked around the track at the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion and Aquatics Center to raise money and show their support for finding a cure for cancer. The event, running from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., is meant to symbolize the life of a cancer patient, with darkness representing the diagnosis and sunrise representing hope. This year, NU raised $180,739.53, surpassing its goal of $165,000.

“I really like when they announce the total at the end,” said Communication junior Michelle Spies, Relay for Life public relations co-chair. “It’s a tangible way to see your efforts.”

Phi Delta Theta and Pi Beta Phi came in first place for fundraising for large teams, and Slivka Residential College of Science and Engineering won the medium teams category. Bobb Hall placed first for small teams.

Cancer survivors Jonny Imerman and Karyn Israel (Bienen ’83) spoke during the opening ceremony. Both speakers praised participating students and engaged the audience with their stories.

Imerman was diagnosed with testicular cancer when he was 26 years old and has since overcome more than six months of chemotherapy and a series of surgeries.

“People are scared, alone, nervous,” Imerman said. “Those are all the emotions people go through during the fight.”

Israel went on to thank NU students for supporting the American Cancer Society, an organization she said helped her immensely during her experience.

“Cancer does not discriminate,” Israel said. “It knows no boundaries.”

Israel was diagnosed with cancer 20 years ago, and, after more than 30 surgeries, stood cancer-free Friday.

Throughout the night, students took laps around the track as various groups performed, students participated in activities and games and different commemorative ceremonies took place. Some other forms of entertainment included a photo booth and a knockout tournament with the men’s varsity basketball team.

Although some students were participating in Relay for Life for their first time, others had been active supporters of the event even before coming to NU. Participants thought it was a great experience and an important cause to support.

“I think it’s a cause that’s timeless and universal,” Spies said. “Cancer can affect anyone. It’s a cause anyone can commit to.”

Event co-chair Kristin Palarz, a Weinberg junior, said she started getting involved with Relay for Life in high school and has been committed to the cause ever since.

“Seeing a community of students come together all for one cause is really great,” Palarz said.

Throughout the event, many students said they felt most touched by the luminaria ceremony, which is held each year to honor those who have passed away from cancer.

“It’s very sad and somber and reminds everyone why they’re here,” Weinberg sophomore Peter Cleary said.

Weinberg freshman Alex Wagner, a member of the Chi Omega team, attended Relay for Life for the first time this year. She said the event was extremely important to her because of the bond she felt with her teammates during the ceremony.

“It was definitely one of the best experiences I’ve had here,” she said.  “It brings everyone together toward a common goal.”

Although individuals have different experiences at the event, most students attend for the same reason, Spies said.

“I feel a strong connection to the cause because I know so many people that have been affected by cancer,” Spies said. “It makes me feel so good that I’m helping.”

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Rebecca Savransky, Design Editor

Rebecca is a Medill senior studying journalism and political science. Her past positions at The Daily include summer editor in chief, campus editor, assistant...