Popular Cancer Fundraiser Relay for Life to Make Debut at GCU

March 28, 2012 / by / 0 Comment

By Michael Ferraresi
GCU News Bureau

A few hundred people are expected to camp out on campus beginning Friday for one of the American Cancer Society’s most popular national fundraisers.

This year marks GCU’s inaugural Relay for Life, an event that student organizers said will include as many as 300 people circling the campus track to raise money and awareness for cancer prevention.

Relay for Life is wildly popular on U.S. college campuses. Most major universities and colleges host an annual event. Students are drawn to a good cause mixed with a social, party atmosphere.

“It’s like 12-hour, giant sleepover and campout on campus,” said GCU junior Mallory Freeman, co-executive chair of this week’s event.  

Friday’s Relay for Life fundraising event at GCU’s track will include a luminaria candle ceremony dedicated to those who have died from cancer. (Photo courtesy of American Cancer Society)

Relay for Life involves teams of people who take turns walking laps around a track, spelling teammates while they sleep in tents or participate in overnight festivities. The idea is to constantly have a representative running, jogging or walking the track. Teams raise money in advance.

GCU organizers said they would like to raise around $30,000 and to put on Relay for Life annually.

The GCU event – which begins at 5 p.m. Friday and concludes around sunrise Saturday – will include a tug-of-war game, music, food vendors and other activities. The movie “Back to the Future” will be shown on a big projection screen, per this year’s theme of “Relay Through the Decades.”

The event also includes a glowing, nighttime luminaria ceremony dedicated to those who have passed away from cancer.

Freeman, 21, said she and other students see Relay for Life as a way to give back to the community and connect with their personal stories of fighting a cancer diagnosis or watching a loved one struggle with the disease.

GCU student clubs and sports teams are included in the 280 people registered through Tuesday, Freeman said, although she hoped more non-GCU guests would attend.  

“We’ve had a lot of churches, and two high schools have signed up – but we’d like to reach out more to surrounding areas,” Freeman said.

Relay for Life dates to 1985, when a Tacoma, Wash., surgeon conceived of a show of solidarity for his patients by running more than 80 miles around a track at a local college. His friends donated $25 to run or walk with the doctor for 30 minutes apiece. They raised $27,000, according to the American Cancer Society, and the annual event was born. 

The organization has expanded the event to include dozens of U.S. colleges plus communities in 18 countries outside the U.S.

To register for GCU’s Relay for Life, or for more information on the event, go to www.relayforlife.org/grandcanyonuaz

Contact Michael Ferraresi at 639.7030 or michael.ferraresi@gcu.edu.

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