Photo by Jon Drews

On April 6, students across campus will take part in Relay for Life’s annual celebration on Tech’s campus. The day-long event, which begins at noon, is the culmination of months of recruiting and fundraising by Relay for Life participants throughout the year.

Music, entertainment, student bands, inflatables and free food will be on Tech Green on Saturday. This is the first time that the annual event will be held on Tech’s new green space.

This year, 68 teams made up of over 714 participants will represent Relay for Life’s presence at Tech. More people are expected to participate at the event through walk-ins.

Most members have friends or family who have fought some form of cancer, the second leading cause of death in the U.S.

“Cancer is one of the most widespread diseases. I think everyone’s got a cause and they’re linked to it somehow,” said Sheila Raman, a fourth year MGT major and President of Relay For Life at Tech.

Members also participate for friends or to contribute to the overall fight against cancer.

“Even if it’s not a family member, you know someone else is affected [by cancer …] I think this event is a way to show that we can band together as a student community and do something for the good,” said Raman, who has been a part of Relay For Life for over ten years.
“I relay so that no one has to hear the words ‘you have cancer’ anymore,” said Raman.

The Saturday event will begin in the morning with a brunch for cancer survivors in the community. Some members of the Tech student body who have survived cancer will also be present.

An opening ceremony at noon will celebrate the lives of people who have fought cancer and inspire those who are currently battling it. Tech’s women volleyball team captain, Susan Carlson, will be the featured student speaker.

A Survivor Lap begins the Relay, which lasts until midnight.

“Throughout the day, someone’s always going to be walking a lap to signify that we will never give up hope on cancer research,” said Raman.

A Luminaria Ceremony will remember friends and family who have died fighting cancer. Paper lanterns will be lit to recognize these individuals.

Participants at the event have the opportunity to meet and support cancer survivors. Survivors at the event will share their experiences with others and celebrate victory over cancer.

Teams at the event will hold fundraisers throughout the day. The various teams consist of organizations, fraternities, sororities, and clubs at Tech. At midnight, the total amount raised by each team will be recognized.

Tech’s Relay for Life chapter is active throughout the year with a variety of fundraising and student outreach activities.

For example, the night of Relay for Life last year invited students to a popular event featuring a line-up of events and entertainments from 7:00pm to 4:30pm. The night of Relay for Life included traditional remembrance activities like a Luminaria Ceremony to the performances by Tech’s own Sympathetic Vibes, Nothin’ but Treble and Society of Step.

The goal for this year’s upcoming relay on April 6 is to raise $55,000 through donations and sponsorships for the American Cancer Society. $35,000 has been raised to date.

Nationwide, Relay For Life raised 385 million dollars for the American Cancer Society (ACS) in 2011 according to their 2012 Stewardship Report. In 2011, ACS spent over $680,000 towards cancer research, prevention, detection, and patient support.

The largest source of private, nonprofit research funds in the U.S. is ACS, spending $140 million on cancer research through research grants at academic institutions and conducting research on its own in 2011.

ACS also funds programs that give the public access to information about cancer prevention and reducing the risks of getting cancer through early detection.

Another important feature is its patient support, which provides free assistance for the families of cancer patients in addition to funding programs that help patients cope with the effects of the disease.

Founded in 1913, American Cancer Society is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

“American Cancer Society’s motto is ‘More Birthdays in the World’ and I think it’s a great motto,” said Raman, “I really stand by that.”