'Relay' goes independent

Late Saturday night, Gesling Stadium was surprisingly full of life. From eight in the evening on Saturday until eight in the morning on Sunday, 38 teams took to the stadium?s track to support the American Cancer Society?s (ACS) fight against cancer.

This year?s CMU Relay for Life event raised over $20,000 for the ACS, which is more than double what the event made last year. Last year?s Relay was CMU?s first and was sponsored by Alpha Phi Omega, a community service fraternity based at CMU.

This year, however, the fraternity chose to turn the event?s leadership over to a independent Relay for Life committee. The Relay committee spent the past year planning and executing Saturday?s event, which, despite the chill weather, came off without any major problems.

The ceremonial first lap around the stadium track brought hundreds of community members together to support those who continue to fight cancer and to remember and honor those who have passed away. In addition to the first lap, the opening luminary ceremony featured the singing of ?Amazing Grace? by CMU senior and voice major David Murray.

Participants included ten local cancer survivors, over a dozen families affected by cancer, and numerous student organizations from both CMU and the University of Pittsburgh.

?The event combines so many organizations on campus. It brings people together where they can all meet each other,? said Relay for Life committee Co-Chair Amanda Gonzales, a junior biological sciences major.
Kavita Arora, a CMU student on the relay team for the International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE?s), agreed, saying that Relay for Life gave her group the chance to not only support cancer research but also to publicize IAESTE?s goals to the many students gathered at the event. Emily Alex, a University of Pittsburgh junior and Navy ROTC team member, said she saw Relay as an opportunity to both support research and maintain an active involvement in the community.

According to its website at, Relay for Life is much more than just an overnight fundraiser. It is also an appeal to the community to support cancer survivors and recognize that the ongoing battle against cancer requires ?continued support from all members of the community,? whether or not they have been affected by cancer.

Although the Relay began with a more solemn vigil, it also featured games and activities. Besides walking on the track, participants also enjoyed glow-in-the-dark limbo, fortune telling, a live DJ, and many other activities. Students and other community members came and went throughout the night, while many camped out in tents on the Gesling Stadium field.

This year?s Relay for Life Committee chairman, Scott Smith, chose to focus on the event?s goal of raising money for cancer research, saying, ?Treatments for cancer have been developed as a result of funding from these events.?