Cancer. From the time most of us were children, we have learned to both hate and fear that word. However on Friday, April 5, at the Bloomsburg University Recreation Center students, faculty and family came together to stand up against cancer. 653 participants united, not in fear or hate, but in love, hope and support. At 7 p.m., the American Cancer Society kicked off their annual Relay for Life fund raiser. “Relay personally affects me,” said Sean Deangelo. “Coming into Realy for the first time as a freshman, it was a new experience, it hit me deep and it got me hooked.” Deangelo was the captain of the Notorious C.U.R.E. team, which was one of the 38 teams that participated in raising money.
Relay for Life began in 1985 by Dr. Gordy Klatt of Tacoma, Wash. According to RelayforLife.com, Klatt was a colorectal surgeon, who wanted to help raise money for his local American Cancer Association by doing the thing he enjoyed doing most; running. For 24 hours straight Klatt’s friends, family and patients paid $25 to walk with him around the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound. At the end of Klatt’s marathon against cancer, he raised $27,000. Twenty-eight years later, Relay for Life has over 5,200 nationwide events and raises $4 billion dollars for cancer research and financial support for those suffering from cancer.
The evening started off with the opening ceremonies, which included Bloomsburg University Professor Dr. James Tomlinson. Tomlinson and his wife Suzanne battled cancer themselves. After the opening ceremonies, participants walked or ran the 1/8 mile track, listened to music provided by the Z-man, and had a good time in honor of those who lost their battle with cancer. “This is the third year and we have fun doing it,” said PJ Riley captain of the Delta Kappa Epsilon team.
Many other Greek life organizations and clubs were present to help raise money. “I have had family members that have battled cancer, so I come here every year in support of them and others who have been affected by it. We try to raise more money every year,” said Lindsay Mumma, a member of Alpha Phi Omega community service fraternity. Alpha Phi Omega, besides being the largest team of the night, raised $2,240 coming in third behind the Beauties and the Beast team and the Psychology Association. “We have a lot of girls affected by breast cancer and other types of cancer, this is one of our biggest philanthropies,” said a Delta Epsilon Beta member Hayley Mclean. “Mainly for us we are a Christian society, some our members have had cancer and it’s important to us to spread awareness,” said Kappa Phi’s team captain Olivia Naugle.
Offices from all around campus came out and showed their support as well. Kristal Martinee from the Financial Aid Office commented, “Well, in general a lot of members of the office have experienced or have family members that have had cancer. My own grandfather passed away from cancer.” Clubs from all interests held fundraisers during the event, the President Leadership Program, the Equestrian Team as well as the Pennsylvania State Education Association. Kathleen Steinberg a member of PSEA commented, “We’re an education club and we like to give back to the community any way we can. We all have had a person we care about suffer one way or another from cancer.”
This year’s Relay for Life had a Disney theme with the slogan, “When you wish Upon a Cure.” Teams decorated their tables with classic Disney movie characters. This children’s theme was important this particular Relay for Life as this was the first year Carissa’s Butterflies was participating here at Bloomsburg. Carissa’s Butterflies is a charity in honor of Carissa Barrett. Barrett was a Bloomsburg native who was diagnosed with a rare adrenal cancer carcinoma. “We started it when she was 15, when she was diagnosed. She passed away about a year ago,” Katrina Conrad captain of the team.
For 12 hours the 653 participants walked, ran and danced tirelessly around the track. Even as the hours grew late students stayed up to show their dedication to those they are supporting. “I have grandparents on both sides of my family that have been affected, and my dad was recently diagnosed in June 2012. I have done Relay every year since before I could walk, my family have always been involved with Relay,” said Robin Hampton, captain of the Student Nursing Association team. “Stay strong, communicate and be there for each other,” said Hampton advising those battling cancer. Twelve hours, 653 participants, 38 clubs, at least 200 songs played and countless laps later, Relay for Life at the Bloomsburg University Recreation Center raised $35,600.92