Connecticut College News
Relay for Life at Conn - Nora Swenson ´1204/20/2009
Relay for Life, as detailed in last week´s issue of The College Voice, is a fundraising event produced by the American Cancer Society. Its purpose is to help spread awareness about cancer´s devastating effects, while working towards finding a cure. Since its initial run in 1985, the event has diverged to the point that it now takes place annually nationwide in numerous cities, as well as nineteen countries around the world. The highest ranking fundraiser per-capita ever reached by a college or university is Loyola University at Maryland, at $165,000 in 2008. Many Connecticut College students as well as outside participants, including students from the Williams School, did their part to contribute to the event. It took place on Friday, April 17, and lasted long into the night and next day. Students congregated on Tempel Green starting at 6 PM to partake in the activities offered throughout the night. Event goers were offered a multitude of items to purchase, face painting, an espresso stand, and an array of other food options. All proceeds went towards cancer research. An opening ceremony, followed by a Survivors Lap, commenced the function, while participants started pitching tents to house teams that would participate in the event overnight. In the early hours, people milled around the green, made initial laps around the upper half of Tempel or stretched and exercised before the long night. It was truly a communal-bonding event, extending far beyond simply raising money for a cure. There was even a "Best Campsite" award, which was given to the "Camel Crusaders" team which was comprised of Connecticut College´s library staff. They not only housed their team within a realistic castle, but also dressed in medieval outfits. As the sun started to set, candles sitting in paper bags were placed around the track in memory of those who had lost their lives to cancer. Informative signs were decorated throughout, with facts such as "1 in 3 Americans will contract some form of cancer," or that "27 percent of American kids will smoke by the time they graduate high school." At 10 PM, the "Luminaria" ceremony began, which placed emphasis on hope and finding a cure. Speakers read aloud lengthy lists of names of those who had died from cancer. This, combined with the multitude of people walking around the track set a very somber tone. The overhead lights were turned off, and speakers asked participants to reflect on the disease and the many millions of people it has affected. Those wishing to continue their reflection were asked to take part in the memorial garden bed. Shortly after, Connecticut College´s renowned improv troupe N20 took the stage for a comedic performance. To conclude the main ceremonies for that night, a final "Fight Back" ceremony was hosted asking for participants to pledge to fight the war on cancer by encouraging others to consistently get themselves checked for cancer, to quit smoking, and to continue to donate and support the cause. The Relay for Life slogan is, "Cancer doesn´t sleep, and neither will we." And at Connecticut College, this rang true, as participants walked the track all night from 6 PM until 10 AM.