Relay for Life Returns to JU

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Photo by Brett Durda

In the mid-1980s Gordy Klatt, Ph.D., a Tacoma colorectal surgeon, decided he was going to take a stand and start raising money for his patients that had battled cancer by running marathons.

What followed became a movement across the globe to fight the battle of cancer. This movement became known as Relay for Life.

On Saturday, March 31, Relay for Life was brought to Jacksonville University’s campus with the help of the surrounding Jacksonville area. Starting at noon on Saturday, the event lasted until early the next morning.

Teams of people camped out around the track while members of each team took a turn to walk for a cure.

Senior Leigh-Anne Edwards played a big part in bringing the movement to campus.

“I’ve helped out every year, and it’s great,” she said. “The main purpose on campus is to bring students and people of the community together to help find a cure for cancer.”

Originally taking place on the Dolphin Green, rain caused the event to be moved into the Founders building, but that didn’t stop the activities or the enthusiasm.

The nine-time award-winning Dazzling Diamonds, comprised of women from the age of 62 through 81, performed a dance for those in attendance. The men joined in as well and dressed in drag to battle it out for the crown of Ms. Relay. The ‘women’ walked around the track for five minutes collecting as much money as they could to win the crown.

The women of the Delta Delta Delta Fraternity had a table at the event and werel having fun and getting involved in every activity that was offered to them.

“We sold baked goods and juice, but we had a blast,” said freshman Sam Sellars. “We did karaoke and zumba earlier in the night.”

Not only were there fun and games at Relay but also ceremonies celebrating both survivors and those who passed away from the deadly disease of cancer.

Relay starts with a survivor’s lap, which invites everyone to participate in the walk and celebrate with those who have survived cancer. This lap also celebrates caregivers of those who have survived and are fighting for their right to survive.

Throughout the event, paper bags were used to remember those who lost their battle to cancer. The Luminaria Ceremony starts after dark with the bags placed around the track with a candle in them. This lap is often walked in silence to remember those who have died.

The last ceremony that takes place is the Fight Back Ceremony where everyone makes a personal commitment to continue to raise awareness and fight back against cancer.

Although the message of the entire event is to raise money to fight cancer and to help those with the deadly disease fight for their lives, there is a family feel to the event, and the true meaning of hope stands out.

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