This weekend, 600 participants will put on their running shoes and jog for survival as part of the Relay for Life, a 24-hour marathon that celebrates the lives of cancer survivors.

The marathon kicks off Saturday, May 20 at noon on the UCSB track and will continue until noon on Sunday. Prospective participants and teams can still sign up at the event’s website,

Relay for Life co-chair Brittany Enos, a second-year communication major, said the overnight event raises money for the American Cancer Society to help the organization research a cure for the disease. According to the Relay for Life website, the event has thus far raised $35,621 from registration fees and donations.

During the relay, participants form teams whose members will take turns walking around the track for 24 hours. Enos said 572 people are signed up for Saturday’s event.

Mary Shirley, a third-year communication major and organizer of the event, said members of the greek system, workers from local businesses like Starbucks and several residents of university residence halls make up some of the people who have already signed up.

Teams are encouraged to create a cancer-related theme for their group, Enos said. For example, Kappa Kappa Gamma’s “ovarian cancer” theme supports Robin Babbini, a member of their sorority currently fighting the disease. Babbini is also a co-chair of the event, and has been undergoing treatment since October.

Shirley said this year’s Relay for Life has raised nearly $10,000 more than last year, an amount that exceeded her expectations.

Shirley said her previous involvement in the relay fostered her current volunteering endeavors. She said she hopes that it will inspire other college students to volunteer, as well.

“It spurs people to get involved in other things,” Shirley said. “After I did it last year I started volunteering again.”

The relay features other activities such as performances by local bands, a capella singing group Naked Voices, Rockstar Pong – beer pong’s non-alcoholic cousin – yoga and food from Woodstock’s Pizza and Pita Pit.

There will also be an auction for a surfboard signed by The Beach Boys and tickets to any show at the Santa Barbara Bowl, Enos said.

Specially featured in the relay are the “survivor lap,” which ends the marathon, and the lighting of the luminarias Saturday night. For the luminarias, participants light candles inside sand-filled paper bags that represent cancer survivors.

Enos said these final events allow participants the chance to openly express their grief.

“Race participants will be given the chance to remember victims and have a good cry,” Enos said.