Students and faculty fundraise to aid fight against cancer
The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life will begin next Friday at the UCSB track, in commemoration and support of lives affected by cancer.
Hosted by the UCSB Relay for Life Planning Committee, the event will take place from Friday at noon through Saturday at noon, in memory of those who have lost their lives to cancer, as well as to raise money for cancer patients, cancer survivors and their friends and family. Highlights of the event include the Survivor Lap, in which participants will walk around the track continuously for 24 hours, marking the exhaustion many cancer patients face regularly, as well as the Luminaria Ceremony, in which participants honor those currently battling cancer or those who have lost their lives to cancer.
In order to incorporate the celebratory portion of the event, Relay for Life offers an array of activities and other forms of entertainment, including games, group yoga, locally-catered food, professional photography, a Pantene Locks-of-Love donation table and screenings of the films “50/50” and “The Avengers.” The event will also feature performances from Vocal Motion, The Olés, Brothas From Otha Mothas and more. Additionally, participants who meet the American Cancer Society’s individual fundraising goal of $100 each will be rewarded with free food.
Chair of the Relay for Life Planning Committee and second-year economics and accounting major Erick Lankey said he hopes to increase the event’s popularity to such a scale that it will one day be embedded into UCSB culture and memorialized as a cherished campus tradition.
“I hope that the event at UCSB can expand further for this year as well as in the future,” Lankey said. “We want Relay for Life to become an event that students mark on their calendars at the beginning of every year as one of those ‘can’t miss’ events.”
According to Lankey, the event will allow participants to both work toward a good cause and bond with peers about a prevalent phenomenon that, for many, hits close to home.
“We all know someone who has been affected by cancer,” Lankey said. “It is great to remember those who have passed away, as well as celebrate and encourage those who have beaten cancer or are still fighting it.”
To participate in the event, students can sign up online — either as a team or as an individual — and raise money both before and during the event itself through restaurant fundraisers, car washes, t-shirt sales and more. The American Cancer Society allocates more than 70 percent of its funds toward cancer education, early detection, patient services and cancer research.
Fourth-year sociology major Emeri Keffer, whose team consists of students and staff members at Tropicana Student Housing, said several local businesses have agreed to support their fundraising efforts.
“As a fellow student, I know how hard it is to find the money to donate,” Keffer said. “A lot of restaurants in I.V. are teaming up with Relay teams to do fundraisers.”
With goals for this year’s event to fundraise $110,000 and host a total of 150 teams, The Relay for Life Planning Committee has currently confirmed 136 teams — or 570 participants — and raised $22,988. The committee urges students and faculty alike to participate and help increase cancer awareness on campus.
Co-Chair of Team Development Jenny Bakos, third-year history and cultural anthropology major, said her father was diagnosed with cancer not long ago and the annual relay event has enabled her to both cope with her personal situation and aid those undergoing similar situations.
“If cancer has not touched your life yet, it most certainly will in the future,” Bakos said. “Cancer touched my life when my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 appendix cancer the night before the start of my freshman year of college at UCSB.”
According to Bakos, Relay For Life is an event that provides a way for many to cope with the emotional struggles of cancer diagnosis.
“UCSB’s Relay for Life has blessed me with the friendships and support that not only helped me deal with my dad’s diagnosis, but gave me the strength to help other Santa Barbara area patients, survivors and caregivers going through similar battles,” Bakos said.
A version of this article appeared on page 4 of May 23rd’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.