Hundreds of Santa Barbarans will participate in a 24-hour relay this weekend to raise funds for cancer research.
Relay For Life, the 24-hour walk-a-thon that annually benefits the American Cancer Society, will take place this Saturday and Sunday drawing some 72 teams – roughly 750 participants – to UCSB’s track, said Monique Walker, UCSB 2007 Relay For Life event planner and fourth-year communication major.
The relay will commence with a ceremony and close with an evening “survivors lap” where all participants take a final stride around the track. At nighttime, participants will honor the lives of cancer survivors and commemorate those who have passed with the “Ceremony of Hope,” lighting luminaria or candles inside sand-filled paper bags.
Naked Voices, Brothas From Otha Mothas, DJ Davis, Natural Incense and Exit 86 will perform in addition to the myriad of activities throughout the relay including a midnight dance.
Captain of the team “Find a Cure,” Lori Nigam, a forth-year psychology major, said she is optimistic about the effect the relay has on community members and the lives the collected money will benefit. Nigam heads the leading team for UCSB, which has already raised just over $9,000.
“Relay for Life seems like a fun way to raise money for cancer,” Nigam said. “It gets the community involved and allows people to come together to talk about their experiences with cancer.”
Walker said UCSB plans to raise approximately $75,000 this year, surpassing last year’s $62,000. Thus far, Walker said participants have already accumulated $60,000 through team fundraising efforts.
UCSB Relay for Life Event Planner Jaimie Thomas, a second-year political science major, said the 72 separate teams consist of individuals of different walks of life, from UCSB campus organizations to local businesses.
“This relay has teams made from clubs, greek life, religious organizations, academic departments and businesses,” Thomas said. “I can’t think of another event that combines so many aspects of our university. It displays such a strong sense of community that I don’t think many people realize we have here.”
She also said that 90 percent of every dollar raised last year went to the American Cancer Society.
Meanwhile, Bee-Oh Kim, a fourth-year film & media studies major and member of UCSB’s Triathlon Team, said he plans to walk the entire race by himself. Kim said he hopes to raise $2,000 through his contribution to the relay.
“I’ll be running really, really slow trying to make 100 miles at a very slow pace,” Kim said. “I’ve done all night runs, starting at 10 p.m. finishing up the next day at 5 or 7 in the morning. I know how it feels and you just kind of have to push through it.”
Kim also said he hopes that through his contribution he can motivate others to partake in the relay and make donations.
“I want to spend 24 hours of my day to experience just a little portion of pain [that cancer patients feel],” Kim said. “I want to make them feel that I care, so I sacrifice 24 hours of my day to let them know hope is possible. Anything is possible.”
Planning for the relay takes place months prior to the actual date. In November, Relay For Life event coordinators gather to plan organization, staffing teams, advertising and fundraising, Thomas said.
“It’s an amazing amount of work and dedication that goes into planning such a huge event and we could not do it without the help of our committee members,” Thomas said. “We are really proud of the fact that we spend so little money actually putting on the event. The Isla Vista community is so generous that we have actually received donations for much of the items we needed to make this event a success.”