WCU combats cancer at Relay for Life

On April 12, Western Carolina University held the annual Relay for Life event to raise awareness and money for cancer treatment.

The event was held on the University Center lawn and lasted 12 hours, starting at 6 p.m. and ending at 6 a.m. A pledge was put up for the volunteers to sign, promising that they would stay the whole time.

According to Sarah Stokes, who was the director of growth and in charge of gaining sponsorships, advertisement, shopping and planning the event, Relay for Life is the world’s largest fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

“It’s an all-night event because cancer never sleeps,” Sarah said. “So, we stay up all night to show our support for it. At the event, teams of organizations, clubs or groups of friends participate and have a fundraiser. We dance, sing, just hang out and have fun, and also remembering those who have lost the battle with cancer. We also have a big fight back ceremony to support those survivors who have already won their battle.”

Throughout the night, there was much merriment as the 40 different organizations that participated put on games and gave away prizes. However, amidst all the fun and entertainment, Relay for Life held true to their mission: educating people on cancer and raising money for a cure.

“Cancer affects everyone,” Stokes said, “and we can all do something to find a cure.”

The participants were extremely dedicated to helping the cause, and some were even there for personal reasons.

“It’s really important to support and help out other people,” sophomore Secoria Holdkanf said, “and for personal reasons. Having family that have suffered before, it’s a deeper meaning. It’s really something to come together at a time like this, even when you find problems in your life, and just come together for the greater good, and raise great money for Relay for Life, and help out patients.”

When asked about why she felt it was important that she was helping out at Relay for Life, sophomore Katy Samuels answered, “To raise awareness about any type of cancer and to just show our support to survivors who are here.”

“I’ve actually had a couple of family members with lung cancer, and liver, and bladder, and that kind of stuff,” senior Stephanie Lightcalf said. “So, it’s like get out here and support.”

According to Stokes, the initial goal was to raise $24,000. They ended up raising $20,400, which is $3,600 away from their goal. However, Stokes said that they have several donations that are still on their way.

Overall, the event did a spectacular job with raising cancer awareness. Everyone came together to stand up against cancer, to continue the journey for the cure, and to back those who are struggling, or have struggled with the disease. Numerous members of the Western Carolina community showed up to give their support. Several survivors were there to participate in the relay and share their story. People walked around the track all night to show that they upheld the cause to fighting cancer and would never stop the fight.