Relay For Life raises $76,000, short of goal but not short of spirit
Issue date: 4/23/10 Section: News
Page 1 of 1
1096 participants raised over $76,000 for the event, just short of Relay's $85,000 goal. While this year's Relay For Life goal was not met, there was still an abundance of participants from the CWRU community. Students and community members braved a chilly, and sometimes rainy, night to walk laps around the track and participate in the events and activities scheduled on the field during the 18-hour event. Some of the events included free food, themed laps, and performances by many of the vocal groups on campus.
Entertainment chair Divya Aggarwal was particularly impressed with the vocal performances. "All the groups gave their all," she said.
This year's Relay also saw the introduction of the Miss Relay pageant, with junior Andrew Franco taking the crown. According to Aggarwal, the pageant was a complete success with an abundance of participation. "I can't tell you how many contestants we had," she said.
Besides celebrating, the Luminaria Ceremony at Relay commemorated those who lost their fight to cancer, are still battling, or have successfully beaten the disease.
The ceremony, one of the most poignant moments during Relay, was highly organized. Event planners met in the middle of the field and lit purple glow sticks, then ran to the various sides of the track where people were standing to ceremonially light their glow sticks and the glow sticks in the luminaries. With all of the lights on the field turned off, a soft purple glow illuminated the faces of those present.
Kathy Ehlert, a CWRU senior and cancer survivor, spoke to those assembled on the field about her experience with cancer. Laps around the track were walked as the names on the luminary bags were read off. The final part of the ceremony was a lap done in silence to honor the memory of those who died of cancer.
"It's an awe-inspiring moment," Ehlert recalled.
Ehlert was diagnosed with cancer 10 years ago. Lauren Kwasniewski, the Luminaria chair for Relay For Life, approached her about telling the story of her fight with cancer during the ceremony.
"I'm really proud to talk about it. I hope to be that one person that changes a life," said Ehlert, "Cancer touches everyone." She plans on using her experience with cancer as part of her future and will be attending Cornell to pursue a doctorate in mechanical engineering.
Ehlert's speech showed how much optimism and joy for life she and many survivors have, despite having been through so much. "Going through what I went through has shown me a different side of life."
Kwasniewski sought out Ehlert specifically to participate in the ceremony. "We decided that she was a good choice." Kwasniewski said. Ehlert's experience was only part of the reason she was chosen to speak. Her involvement on campus and her age were also a big part of the decision. "It brings it close to home for all of us on campus," Kwasniewski said.
Even with all the planning that goes into Relay For Life, every year is different. This year, the inclement weather provided some nervous excitement. Rain earlier that day almost meant that the luminaries were not set up, but the skies were clear for the ceremony, although the wind caused problems with some of the luminary bags.
"The wind was terrible. As we were trying to light the bags some of them caught on fire," Kwasniewski said.
Fortunately, the fires were small and were under control very quickly.
Even though Relay failed to reach its $85,000 goal, Kwasniewski still considered the event to be successful, highlighting that this year's Relay raised $20,000 in one night.
"Looking back on it, I did enjoy it." Kwasniewski stated, "People came out and had fun despite the weather and that's what Relay is about."