Over a thousand students, community members and cancer survivors will convene today at noon at Pauley Track for the launch of UCSB’s annual Relay for Life.

The 24-hour event — hosted by UCSB’s Relay for Life Committee — begins with a victory lap for cancer survivors and will feature entertainment by local performers as well as food and games for participants. This year, close to 145 teams have raised over $73,000 in sponsorships for cancer research and counseling efforts as part of the American Cancer Society’s national fundraiser.

RFL Committee Co-Chair Ashley Evans, a fourth-year political science major, said the event allows the community to celebrate the strength of those fighting against cancer.

“Cancer can really turn your world upside down, and it’s important to honor the people who have had cancer as well as their caregivers,” Evans said. “The relay exemplifies how much fighting back against cancer means to people.”

Delta Tau Delta team captain Charles Munger, a third-year computer science major, said the relay provides resources for studies that can eventually save lives.

“The money funds important research efforts like the discovery of a direct link between cigarettes and cancer,” Munger said. “We’re going to cure all the various types of cancer eventually, but the more money we raise now the fewer people we have to lose.”

According to Munger, a cancer survivor himself, the event’s atmosphere builds solidarity in the fight against cancer.

“I had skin cancer a couple of years ago and it really sucked,” Munger said. “It means a lot to see my fraternity brothers out there with me and for me.”

Relay for Life Committee Survivorship Chair Marisol Gonzales, a fourth-year Spanish and psychology major who lost her father to brain cancer, said the relay presents an opportunity to grieve and celebrate his life.

“When you lose someone, you don’t want to talk about it every day,” Gonzalez said. “So this is my way to remember my dad.”