Students relay to fight cancer

January 29, 2016

Students attended Brandeis’ eighth annual Relay for Life in the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center on Saturday, Jan. 23. A 24-hour fundraising event, the community comes together to honor and remember loved ones who have been lost to cancer and celebrate cancer survivors, all while raising money to fight back and find a cure for the disease.

Forty-three teams participated in Relay for Life, according to Brandeis’ event page on the Relay for Life website, including Greek organizations, sports teams, clubs and groups of friends. A total of 487 people participated, raising $37,474.53.

Set up on the indoor track, at least one person from each team is required to walk
laps for the entire night, symbolizing how cancer never sleeps—and neither will we in our fight to cure it.

During the opening ceremony, co-Chairs Eliana Rosenthal ’16 and Genesis Leon ’16 and Interim President Lisa Lynch spoke to the crowd, sharing their stories and providing words of support and inspiration in the Opening Ceremony.

“Cancer is something—speaking both as a survivor and as someone who lost both my mother and father-in-law to cancer—cancer is something that needs a community,” said Lynch, a skin cancer survivor herself. “It needs a community to do the research, to find new ways of battling and curing and helping those of us who continue to battle with cancer to have a longer survival.”

After all the opening remarks had been made, Relay for Life officially began with the Survivors Lap, in which cancer survivors take the first lap around the track, cheered on by all the Relay participants, to celebrate their victory over cancer. Halfway through the Survivors Lap, the survivors are met by their caregivers, who finish the lap with them. After the first lap has been completed by the survivors and caregivers, the rest of the participants are invited to take their first lap around the track and begin the night.

Throughout the night, there were multiple performances and activities to participate in aside from walking laps. Demonstrations and performances included those by the a cappella groups Company B, Rather Be Giraffes, Proscenium, Up the Octave and No Singer Clef Behind, as well as dance groups Kaos Kids and Chak De, the improv group False Advertising and students from the Krav Maga club.

The annual Luminaria Ceremony allows participants to remember loved ones lost to cancer. Special to Brandeis, participants are invited to throw glow sticks into a large Luminaria bag in the center of the track to symbolize anyone they know who has been affected by cancer.

“My favorite part is when everyone comes together for the Luminaria Ceremony because it shows how much we all care about each other and about trying to fight back and raising awareness, and it’s just really moving,” said Brianna Silverman ’19, captain of the United Freshman (TUF). The Luminaria Ceremony holds a special significance for Silverman, as she lost her father to a brain tumor when she was younger. “I usually ask my family members or friends of my dad to buy a luminaria, because the luminaria represent people that are fighting or have lost the fight. They line the track and it’s a really beautiful way of respecting those that we’ve lost,” she said.

Relay has a special meaning to many members of the Brandeis community, and they know that every penny fundraised counts, which is why so many people from different areas of the Brandeis community come together to support the cause.

“To me, Relay is the epitome of Brandeis,” said Relay co-chair Rosenthal. “As we like to say in our Committee meetings, Relay is the club that you can bring all of your other clubs to. It’s a community rallying together for a cause that unfortunately is so vast in its exposure that it has touched just about everyone on this campus. Relay is truly a community event because it is accessible to everyone and creates so many different campus connections.”

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