Relay for Life of Western Carolina University will be held on the A.K. Hinds University Center lawn Friday, April 13, at 6 p.m. and will proceed until 6 a.m. Saturday, April 14.
The event will feature a “cancer survivor victory lap” at 7 p.m. and a luminaria ceremony in honor of cancer survivors at 9:30 p.m. Bob Buckner, Pride of the Mountains Marching Band director and a prostate cancer survivor, is serving as this year’s honorary survivor chair.
“Relay for Life is a unique fund-raising event that not only celebrates cancer survivors, but also increases cancer awareness on our campus,” said Kathleen Cummins, a junior nursing major at WCU. A student-organized event, Relay’s overnight activities symbolize the fact that “cancer never sleeps,” Cummins said.
Relay for Life involves teams of 10 to 15 people taking turns walking around a track for the duration of the event. Participants from WCU student clubs, churches, civic groups, families and friends form teams that raise funds prior to and at the Relay.
“Teams are formed to rally in support of a co-worker or loved one who is fighting or has lost the battle with cancer. More than 30 teams and some 250 participants have already made the commitment to take part in Relay at WCU,” said team recruitment chair Mike Young, a chemistry graduate student.
Relay for Life is the signature activity of the American Cancer Society and last year raised $351 million at 4,350 events worldwide.
“In the South Atlantic Division, 565 events raised more than $67 million in 2006,” said Cummins. “Relay for Life of WCU did its part by raising $18,500. This year we hope to raise $20,000.”
During the Relay, a party atmosphere is created through team members camping out and enjoying entertainment, food, games and camaraderie all night long. This year’s Friday the 13th date inspired the theme: “Walk Without Fear.”
Highlights of the event include the “survivors’ lap,” one walk around the track by survivors who are winning the fight; and the luminaria ceremony, which is held to remember those who lost their battle with cancer, to honor cancer survivors or to pay tribute to someone who has been a special inspiration. The bagged votives, sold prior to the event, burn throughout the night and serve as a reminder to all participants of the reason for Relay for Life, Young said.
“The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life represents the hope that those lost to cancer will never be forgotten, that those who face cancer will be supported and that one day cancer will be eliminated,” said Lisa Duff, a WCU alumna who is senior community manager for the American Cancer Society.
For more information or to make a donation, contact Duff at (828) 994-0431.