by Clare Gates, Staff Writer
At SVC, Spring Family Weekend is synonymous with craft booths and festival-style games, but this year, the Saint Vincent Colleges Against Cancer Club will add something new to festivities – a “Relay for Life” to raise money to fight cancer. The club chose this particular weekend in order to attract attention to the event and to allow family members who have suffered from cancer to take part as spectators. The club encourages students to participate in this eighteen-hour relay where teams of 8-15 members will walk or run to raise funds. The Colleges Against Cancer Club will use the money that teams raise to work towards the same goals as the American Cancer Society, of which Colleges Against Cancer is a part: research, education, survivorship acknowledgement and advocacy.
“The Relay for Life is associated with the American Cancer Society. As such, most colleges will have a relay,” said Christie Cyktor, co-president of Saint Vincent’s Colleges Against Cancer. The Relay for Life is one of the signature events of Colleges Against Cancer clubs across America. Last year, the American Cancer Society provided training and assistance to groups in 21 countries that held a Relay for Life, including Australia, Brazil, Denmark and Japan.
“Most communities have their own relay,” Cyktor explained, citing the examples of Latrobe and the Pittsburgh East Monroeville Area. The Saint Vincent Relay for Life is part of larger efforts to raise money to fight cancer in both the local and worldwide communities.
Although few students give a thought to the Spring Family Weekend while snow dusts the campus, the Colleges Against Cancer Club will hold a Relay for Life rally on January 17. Public Relations chair Matt Russo will hang advertisements and send emails advertising the rally and the relay itself.
“It will be a way for students to come get excited about the relay, and they can also register early for only $5.00 per person rather than $10.00,” Cyktor said. Even if students miss the rally, however, they will be able to sign up for the relay through a website the club plans to create.
Once teams have signed up for the relay, “We will hold informational meetings and give them some fundraising ideas and tips,” Cyktor said. Students who participate must pay the registration fee, “But after that, all the money they raise will go towards cancer research, education, survivorship acknowledgement, and advocacy” since Colleges Against Cancer’s nationwide mission is to battle cancer through the implementation of the American Cancer Society’s mission and programs. The Relay for Life Relay typically lasts twenty-four hours in its efforts to raise money, but Saint Vincent has chosen to follow other colleges’ example and hold a more practical mini-relay that spans only eighteen hours. “The point is to have someone from the team on the track at all times, and you can either walk or run,” Cyktor added.
“So many people are affected by cancer and they don’t really feel like they can do anything to help fight back. By participating in a Relay For Life, people finally get the chance to have their voices heard and to feel like they can make a difference. Having participated in several of them, I can truly say that it’s an amazing feeling,” Cyktor said.
Even if participants in the relay have not known someone with cancer, Cyktor insists that the relay “is an amazing way to acknowledge those who still battle the terrible disease and honor those who are no longer with us.”
Although the Christmas season threatens to dismiss thoughts of the January rally as well as the Relay For Life, which will not take place until spring, the relay is certainly linked to this holiday season.
“Around the holidays, many people can feel thankful for the loved ones in their lives and cherish the time they have,” Cyktor said. “By participating in the relay, it will be a way of doing a similar thing. You will celebrate the chance for survivors to spend another holiday season with their loved ones, and you will remember those who have left this world and now share the time with us in our hearts and memories.”