By Sylvia Brooks, Staff Writer
One may not realize by the smiles of over 200 participants and the upbeat live music coming from the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) Fitness and Recreation Center (FRC) that the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life is a spiritual and emotional journey for nearly all of its attendees.
On April 11th, 28 teams gathered at the FRC to begin the nine hour walk that is Relay for Life. Teams were primarily made up of clubs on campus, though there were also several teams of passionate UMF students. Tables lined the track, manned with team members selling various products in hope of raising money for this honorable cause. Products ranged from healthy snacks, energy drinks, henna tattoos, and even a raffle to win an Aerosmith drumhead.
Teams were encouraged to run an activity during Relay for Life to raise money for their team and to keep spirits high as the event proceeded into the early hour of 6:00 A.M. on April 12th. Events included a marshmallow eating contest, water pong competition, a dance off, and a drag show.
Hayley Smith-Rose, a senior and Co-Captain of Bust-a-Move for a Cure, participated in Relay for the third year in a row, and always has a good time. “My favorite part was the dance off! My team raised almost 200 dollars during the event and people got really into it, and the audience was all very generous,” said Smith-Rose.
At the end of the night, UMF raised a staggering $19,406.82, and will continue to raise money for the next few months.
The entire night is an emotional experience, perhaps the most tear jerking part being the luminaria walk. During the luminaria walk, paper bags with names and messages to those affected by cancer are placed along the track with glow sticks that illuminate the darkened FRC. Music plays as people walk for an hour and think about and remember those who have been impacted by cancer. It is a time for reflection, and also a time to grieve with the support of all participants.
According to junior Ashley Godbout, Co-Chair of the event, a recent cancer survivor named David thought that the luminaria walk was, “a wonderful thing to see before [his] eyes and almost like a miracle.”
Godbout, a second year participant in Relay for Life, co-chaired the committee with Katie Mclaughlin. Godbout along with the rest of the Relay for Life committee are responsible for not only setting up the event. They have worked hard since October to enlist teams, promote the event and encourage people to raise money as teams and individually. “I think that it went really well,” said Godbout.
Though there are many different personal reasons that people participate in Relay for Life, all of the participants are working towards a common goal: to celebrate more birthdays. “I relay to try to eradicate cancer problems in the future for me and my family,” said Smith-Rose.
Laurie Goddard, an attendee of the event, was declared cancer free in 2007 after seven months of chemotherapy. Goddard said “Relay for Life gives students an opportunity to learn how to raise money for a great cause.” Being a cancer survivor, Goddard has high hopes that Relay for Life will continue to be successful and expand further in the years to come.
The Relay for Life committee will officially become a club next year, so they are hoping to bring further awareness to the event, and be able to make even more of an impact in the fight to eliminate cancer. “ My mom battled and survived,” said Godbout. “I want other people to be able to have that good outcome.”