WCU’s Relay for Life again a huge success

Western Carolina University’s Relay For Life 2012 took place on the University Center lawn on Friday, April 13.

The event, in the works since last summer, attracted students, faculty and community members. Featuring acts like the Lobby Blockers and Buchanan Boys and headlined by NBC’s “The Voice” winner Javier Colon, Relay teams got together to help raise money to support cancer survivors and cancer research.

With setup beginning at 4 p.m. for registered teams, many students eyed the event as they walked to and from class. A stage was erected in front of the UC with the main stage having already been erected in The Quad.

The event kicked off at 6:30 p.m. with unique booths such as a mock jail in which event goers could “lock up” their friends for a certain amount of money, and the “prisoners” were required to ask for donations to set themselves free. Also, a trampoline was present, along with tons of food, drinks and wares like handmade blankets.

During the opening ceremonies, cancer survivors in attendance took the first laps around the booths to the sound of cheering from everyone. Relay team members would go on to complete laps throughout the rest of the night in honor of the survivors and those currently battling cancer.

On the UC lawn stage, the Lobby Blockers and the Buchanan Boys delivered excellent performances for the crowd. A performer that evening and a cancer survivor, Adam Kraciuk,gave his testimony of battling the disease and his continuing recovery during the Luminaria Ceremony at 10:30 p.m. A poem was also read in honor of survivors and those still fighting cancer, and at the end of the ceremony, a survivor lap was held.

As night set in and a cold spell took hold of Cullowhee, event goers got their coffee and hot chocolate and prepared for Javier Colon’s concert, which was a great performance.

At 11:00 p.m., the annual Miss Relay contest was held, with five beautiful gentlemen dressed as ladies showing their goods on stage and trying to raise the most money in thirty minutes. All of the “ladies” looked divine and did not hold back to raise money for the cause.

Cory Shropshire, a junior and a Miss Relay participant, was surprised that he enjoyed dressing like a woman.

“I had no idea what I was getting into when the girls from my class started putting makeup on me. I was nervous at first but seeing all the people smile and laugh made it better. It was a great feeling knowing that I raised a lot of money for Relay for Life dressed as a woman. All in all, it was a great experience and I will definitely do it again for next year’s event,” said Shropshire.

Shaddoe Blackford, a sophomore and captain of the Teaching Fellows Relay team, thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

“Relay for Life is an amazing experience. It brings survivors and supporters together to spread the word and raise funds to ‘help create more birthdays.’ WCU’s Relay for Life had a fantastic turnout this year,” said Blackford. “I’m so proud of our community for rallying together to raise money for a fantastic and important cause. I wish that WCU could do more events such as these; they really bring the campus together. I can’t wait until next year’s Relay for Life!”

For those brave enough to withstand the cold and the sleepiness (although there were some tents put up), Relay lasted through the night, including a food-eating competition and WHEE Rock. The closing ceremonies took place at 6:30 a.m. and then, after packing up, everyone decided that a day of sleep was in order.

Katie Pierce, this year’s event co-chair, is thankful that the Catamount nation came together to raise over $19,000 for the event.

“The Relay For Life event was one of the most incredible things I have been a part of in my life,” said Pierce. “To see it grow from the planning stages this past summer to the actual night of Relay with everyone out on the lawn was honestly more than I could have ever imagined. I was speechless with all of the support and love that I saw out on the lawn the entire night. That is what means more than anything – other students who are impacted by cancer in some way who are just as dedicated to this incredible cause.”