Nearly 700 students participate in Relay for Life

Tyler Pager, Campus Editor

About 700 students participated in Relay for Life this weekend, raising nearly $100,000 for the American Cancer Society.

The annual 12-hour event began with speaker Jonny Imerman, who discussed his experience battling cancer. He said after he survived cancer, he chose to start an organization to help people who are in the same position he was. His organization, Immerman’s Angels, gives one-on-one support to cancer patients, survivors and caregivers.

Weinberg junior Deborah Wu, Relay for Life’s survivorship co-chair, said she has been participating in Relay for Life since 2006 in honor of her younger sister who died from brain cancer. She referenced the statistic that one in three people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.

“Coming together as a community to fight back against a disease is very powerful,” she said. “It’s an enemy everyone wants to fight against.”

Following the opening ceremony, cancer survivors walked the first lap around the track at Henry Crown Sports Pavilion. Students then joined in and continued walking throughout the event, which began 6 p.m. Friday night and ended 6 a.m. Saturday morning.

Students also participated in a variety of organized activities including knock-out with the men’s varsity basketball team and a dance class from BLAST. Comedy group Mee-Ow and a cappella groups also performed during the night.

At 10 p.m., all participants gathered outside for the traditional luminaria ceremony, which honors cancer survivors, those still fighting the disease and those who have died from it.

Bridget Popovic, one of Relay for Life’s event chairs, said this year had the highest number of students participating in recent years.

“Our goal is to make as many students aware of our cause as possible,” the McCormick junior said. “If we get more and more participants each year, that means more students who know about the cause and what resources are available to live life hopefully cancer free.”

During the event, organizers revealed participants and sponsors combined to raise $92,185.53, but the total will continue to rise as donations are accepted until August. Phi Mu Alpha and Sigma Alpha Iota were recognized as the top large team, raising $6,312.94. Alpha Chi Omega and Sigma Phi Zeta raised $2,711.75, the most for a medium-sized team, and MIXED, the Mixed Race Student Coalition, was recognized as the top small team with $2,365.

Weinberg senior Veronica Benduski, the group’s survivorship co-chair, participated in Relay for Life all four of her years at NU. She said it showed her how much NU students care about raising awareness and money for cancer research.

“It’s very much a time to remember people in our lives that we really care about,” she said. “This is something that affects everyone and coming together really shows you that you are part of a community and you’re not alone.”

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