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University of Northern Colorado Relay for Life event raises over $56,000

By Laurel Casey
On April 8, 2013

  • Klawz shows off his purple tutu in support of the Relay for Life cancer walk on Friday, April 5 at the campus recreation center. Colleen Allison | The Mirror

One of the most highly anticipated events on campus took over the weekend as students from different clubs and organizations invaded the Campus Recreation Center for a full night of walking for cancer research.

The annual Relay for Life cancer walk began at 6 p.m. Friday and went through the night, ending at 7 a.m. Saturday.

The event featured an opening ceremony consisting of cancer survivors taking part in a special survivor victory lap around the track. The ceremony also recognized various teams and sponsors and included a speech from Elizabeth Davis, an assistant professor of nursing and a cancer survivor.

This year's Relay for Life was Dr. Seuss-themed and raised roughly $56,600. That figure is expected to rise as fundraising continues through the end of the fiscal year in August.

More than 70 teams were created and had designated campsite areas on the floor of the main and auxiliary gyms. Teams decorated their campsites with tents, food and coffee, chairs, blankets, pillows and games so teammates and visitors could relax between shifts on the track.

"Amidst all the chaos of life that has my head in the clouds so often, Relay is the reminder that keeps me grounded in humility, appreciation, and altruism," said Morgan Thomas, a senior nursing major.

"There is nothing more empowering than being under one roof with that many people who have a passion for something bigger than themselves."

Relay for Life is a non-profit international event through the American Cancer Society (ACS), which has the goal to raise money for cancer research, treatment, education and support of cancer victims and their families.

Since August, the UNC planning committee has met weekly, planning for the event that attracted more than 800 students, staff and community members. Alexandria Monroe, the director of the event and junior elementary education major, participates in Relay for a very special reason.

"I started participating in Relay for Life my freshman year of high school to honor my mother who died of melanoma when I was 12," Monroe said. "This year was extra special because I was honored with being the event director, and I was able to spend the night hanging out with 800 college students fighting against a disease that takes so much."

Some of the activities included giant twister, musical chairs, a scavenger hunt, an obstacle course, line dancing taught by the Sugar Bears dance team, dodgeball and Zumba.

 "I attended Relay in honor of my mom who is now six months cancer-free from breast cancer and for my grandpa who is still battling lung cancer," said Sarah Ogurek, a junior psychology major and part of the 2013 Relay planning committee. "My favorite part was presenting my mom with a medal and rose for being a survivor of breast cancer. It touched my heart when she started to cry."

One of the most important and captivating parts of the night was the Luminaria ceremony. Luminaria bags, made out of paper lunch sacks, could be purchased and decorated with "In honor of..." or "In memory of..." for those affected by cancer. The bags were posted along the track and yellow glow sticks illuminated inside them.

"I attended Relay because I have lost some good friends to the disease, and my aunt is currently fighting it - like a champ, I might add," said Emily Cerny, a junior elementary education major. "I also think that it is important for everyone to see the effect this disease has on a family and how happy survivors are to see us take an interest in this battle."

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