Hundreds of UCSB students and community members will take to the track today at 10 a.m. to combat cancer with the sixth annual Relay for Life.
Each team member is required to raise a minimum of $100 to contribute to the cause. With almost 145 teams participating in today’s relay, the event is expected to raise $110,000 — almost $10,000 more than last year’s relay.
The event is inspired by the phrase “cancer never sleeps” and all teams must have at least one representative on the track for the entire 24-hour period.
According to UCSB alumna and event chair Hillary Chilsholm, the relay began in 1985 after Dr. Gordy Klatt circulated a track for 24 hours to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
“It started in Tacoma, Washington by a doctor who was doing a run-a-thon to try to raise money,” Chilsholm said. “He wanted to run 24 hours as symbolic of cancer patients suffering.”
Participants include people who have lost loved ones to cancer, survivors and those who simply support the cause.
Survivor chair Nick Galacia, a fourth-year business economics major, said he views the relay as an opportunity to give back.
“It allows me to give back in some way,” Galacia said. “I was given so much when I was going through treatment and, now that I’ve been in remission for over 15 years, it gives me an opportunity to give back to all those who had done so much for me.”
Although any contribution is welcomed, co-president of Colleges Against Cancer and third-year biology major Mary Bissnell said online donations can include a personal message.
“The best way to donate is just online,” she said. “You can include your own message that everyone can read and explain why you’re donating to make it more heartfelt.”
Cancer survivors will lead the opening lap around the track. The Luminary Ceremony will start at 9 a.m. and includes switching the fluorescent lights over the track with glow stick illuminated bags. The new lights are from the Ceremony of Hope and represent the individuals who have passed away from cancer.
As this year’s presenter for the Luminary Ceremony, Bissnell said the event’s activities are both celebratory and solemn.
“My speech a couple years ago was a little more just about fighting back,” Bissnell said. “This one will be a little more somber, about people lost on campus and personal experiences about losing people with cancer.”
Donations can still be made online or at the event itself.