The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

83° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Community members pull all-nighter for cancer awareness in 2013 UA Relay for Life


PHOTO courtesy of Devon Dale

Participants run in the 2012 Relay for Life event. This year’s Relay for Life will take place this year on the UA Mall on Friday.

UA student organizers and community members will celebrate their yearlong efforts to end cancer at Relay For Life this Friday.

Political science junior Melissa Schwartz’s grandmother passed away from cancer before she ever had the opportunity to meet her. She said she hopes future generations won’t miss the opporunity to meet a grandparent because of cancer. However, as the co-chair of the 2013 UA Relay For Life, Schwartz has done more than just hope — she has taken action.

Working alongside a board of dedicated committees since August of 2012, Schwartz watched as more than 85 teams and 650 participants joined together to raise more than $32,000 in support of the American Cancer Society — and the numbers are still rising. Schwartz was a team captain for Relay For Life during her freshman year and has been actively involved since.

“It has always been a priority of mine to help find a cure [for cancer],” Schwartz. “Unfortunately, the reality is that everyone knows someone who has had cancer. It has affected everyone’s lives. I hope that by participating in Relay For Life and raising funds, we are getting closer to eliminating cancer.”

The event will begin on Friday at 6 p.m. and last until 6 a.m. on Saturday as volunteers celebrate the culmination of their yearlong efforts while continuing to raise awareness about cancer and funds to fight the disease. There will be various events throughout each hour on the UA Mall to entertain guests as they pull an all-nighter to match the slogan of the Relay For Life fundraiser:
“Cancer never sleeps.”

A manicure station, a three-legged race, a pie-eating contest and root beer pong are just a few of the activities that will take place during the night, not to mention the various “themed” laps, such as the “walk backwards lap,” the “piggyback lap,” the “‘Gangnam Style’ lap” and the “conga lap.”

There will also be a performance by the Black N’ Blue Hip Hop Crew and music by DJ Dre as well as a talent show, a “Battle of the Sexes” and more.

“It is a really great way to come together as a community,” Schwartz said, “and it is so much fun.”

Walking at the relay event is an opportunity to not only honor cancer survivors and remember loved ones that were lost, but also to raise awareness about cancer itself and raise money to help end cancer, according to the official Relay For Life website.

John Routh, a member of the marketing committee for the UA’s Relay For Life chapter and a pre-business freshman, said he is amazed at how many people cancer can affect. After losing his grandmother to pancreatic cancer and witnessing extended family members in their own battles with the disease, he said he views the fight against cancer as “a very important cause to support.”

This is Routh’s fourth year participating in Relay For Life.

Routh said he is most excited for the Luminaria Ceremony, where volunteers are given the chance to decorate and dedicate a paper bag to loved ones fighting cancer. The bags will then be lit with candles and displayed along the edge of the track, he said.

This is the moment when it becomes clear “how many people have been affected by cancer,” Routh added. “It’s amazing.” The Luminaria Ceremony will take place at 9 p.m.

The money raised at the event is donated to Pima County through the “Look Good Feel Better” program that helps breast cancer survivors get access to wigs and makeup to help them regain their self-esteem after going through chemotherapy treatments, Schwartz said. This program is one of many guided by leadership from the American Cancer Society.

“The money is going straight to our community,” Schwartz added. “I think that is so special and so
rare for a lot of fundraisers and philanthropies. It helps us.”

Devon Dale, a neuroscience junior, is the event chair of the UA’s Relay For Life this year. She first participated in Relay For Life during her sophomore year of high school as a team captain and has worked her way up to event chair over the past five years, she said.

Dale’s grandfather is currently fighting cancer, which she said has “really strengthened her drive because [she] can see what [cancer] can do to a family and to a person.”

“I love relay and I wanted to make the UA chapter as amazing as it possibly could be,” Dale said. “It will be a night that you will never forget.”

More to Discover
Activate Search