SDSU celebrates Relay for Life

By Rachel Gibbons Juice Reporter

“Party with a Purpose” was the theme of Relay for Life held in Frost Arena from 6 p.m. on Friday April 19 to 6 a.m. Saturday. Supporters filled the arena to celebrate 100 years of the American Cancer Society and participate in Relay for Life. 

Brittanie Venard, Relay for Life event chair and President of College Against Cancer, called the event a giant birthday party.  She said “Party with a Purpose” related to celebrating 100 years of the American Cancer Society along with Relay for Life’s goal of creating a world with more birthdays. 

 “We all come to this event with a personal tie to cancer. It’s just that cancer doesn’t sleep and neither do we and this is our way to fight back against cancer,” Venard said.

One of the main goals of CAC is to organize and fundraise for Relay for Life every year. The club starts in August and puts on a variety of fundraising events.  They raised funds through “Bowling for Boobs,” ice skating at Larson Ice Center and Coaches vs. Cancer. Area restaurants like Pizza Ranch, Cherry Berry, Cubby’s and Dairy Queen sponsored nights where a percentage of all proceeds went towards the CAC’s efforts.

CAC is divided into eight subcommittees; the committees are fundraising, team development, sponsorship, entertainment, survivorship/lumanaria, logistics, online, and publicity.

Relay for Life aims to support people who are currently fighting cancer, have survived cancer, remember those who have lost the battle, and make the commitment to fight the disease and raise money and awareness to end cancer.

Relay for Life consisted of 22 teams. Many SDSU clubs and organizations made teams and set up around the track. Along with sororities, fraternities and campus clubs, groups of friends also formed teams for the relay. Members from each team take turns walking on the track during the event’s entirety. 

Each team had a specific campsite and was in charge of an on-site fundraiser.  A few of the fundraisers were pancakes, video games, a kissing booth, face painting, yard games and limbo.  The fundraisers made it fun for walkers of other teams to visit their campsites all the while raising money for cancer research.

The all-night event started with the opening ceremony and introduction of the night’s activities. Jessica Fick, freshman at SDSU, was named honorary survivor. She spoke at the opening of the event and told her personal story with cancer.  The honorary survivor is selected as someone on the SDSU campus who is a cancer survivor and is willing to share their story during the celebrate ceremony.

“I have been involved three times; it is part of my life now,” Fick said of being part of Relay for Life. “It feels really good to have all the people here for us,” she said.

After opening ceremony, the survivors/caregivers took the first lap around the track to start the night off.  The Relay for Life committee followed, and the rest of the teams started their lap afterwards. 

As team members walked around the track, theme laps were featured about every two hours of the event. The theme laps were CEO and office women leader, toga, Mardi Gras, spring break and wearing colors that represent certain cancers. Team members dressed up and walked their laps in conjunction with the theme. 

“My favorite part of Relay was being able to see all the teams having fun while working together to raise money for a great organization,” said Ryan Homan, Co-chair for Relay for Life.

Many activities were offered for participants throughout the night.  The teams partied with a purpose to performances by singers, participated in Zumba, “Minute to Win It,” the dance team performed and at midnight root beer pong was played. Miss South Dakota, Jessica Albers, was a featured speaker.

“It’s another great opportunity for volunteering, and there are people in the club’s families or friends that have been affected by cancer and it’s a great cause,” said Shaelee Nelson, member of the Exercise Science Club that formed a team for Relay for Life.

Relay for Life this year had more reason to celebrate, the event raised $19,500, which is more than last year. One Relay for Life sayings is “Imagine a world with more birthdays … we’re making that happen.”