On Friday, April 8, more than 2,400 people gathered at the University of Minnesota's Bierman Athletic Field for the eighth-annual Relay for Life. Relay For Life is a 12-hour, overnight event designed to raise money for research and programs for the American Cancer Society. Its purpose is to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease.
Over 5,000 communities all over the United States host a Relay For Life. Every relay begins with a survivor's lap--people that have survived cancer are invited to the track for a lap to celebrate the victories that have been made against cancer. After dark, the Luminaria Ceremony takes place. Luminarias, each with the name of a person that has had cancer, line the track and the candles inside are lit. Amanda Hegeman, Colleges Against Cancer (CAC) president, said, "My favorite part of the Relay is the Luminaria Ceremony. It is a powerful time when everyone gets to take time and remember why they are relaying." The last ceremony that happens is the Fight Back Ceremony in which people make a personal commitment to save lives such as talking to government officials about health policies, joining the Colleges Against Cancer student group, or pledge to quit smoking.
This was the first year that the U of M Relay was able to be held outside in the eight years of its existence. There were a number of fun events going on throughout the night. There was a Spam eating contest, Buffalo Wild Wings Blazin' Challenge, a breakdancing show, a performance by the local band Cadence, and much more. CAC President Amanda Hegeman said, "Being outside this year there was definitely a different feel. It seemed as though there was a greater sense of community at the event. I'm not exactly sure why, but the entire of the event was amazing this year!"
Colleges Against Cancer reached its seven-year goal to raise a million dollars for the American Cancer Society earlier this year and kept the momentum leading up to the Relay. The University of Minnesota raised over $219,000 before and during the event this year. The House that Bob Built was the winning team that ended up raising at total of $18,174!
To learn more about this great tradition, visit the U of M Relay For Life website.