Belmont will hold its inaugural Relay for Life event on Saturday to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
Relay for Life is an all-day event — from 12-10 p.m. in the Sports Science Center — packed with team activities and ceremonies to raise money for cancer research and other programs ACS hosts to support cancer patients.
“This event is an amazing way to show how many people are affected by cancer,” said Liv Bell, a Belmont senior and president of Relay for Life at Belmont.
Bell volunteered for Relay for Life at Lipscomb University and then brought the event to Belmont when she transferred. She experienced many challenges while creating a new student organization at Belmont, but after two years, she’s finally getting to see her hard work come together.
“If it weren’t for myself and the people on my executive team, it would’ve taken longer. We did not give up,” said Bell.
For Bell, Relay for Life is about more than just supporting a good cause. Bell’s mom is a breast cancer survivor, so she felt a personal calling to bring the event to Belmont’s campus, she said.
“Everyone you know has probably been affected by it, and that’s what brings us together for events like Relay,” said Bell.
Relay for Life started with Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon specializing in cancer in Tacoma, Washington. He recruited over 300 of his friends and family to walk the track at the University of Puget Sound with him for 24 hours in support of ACS, according to the Relay for Life website.
The point of the event was to “signify that cancer never sleeps,” said Allison Miracle, Community Development Manager at ACS.
Since that first event in 1985, Relay for Life has spread across the U.S. and 20 other countries. It has raised approximately $5 billion since its origin, according to the Relay for Life website.
At Belmont, the event will include an opening ceremony, a survivor and caregiver walk, a closing ceremony and other activities like boxing and yoga. The day will also feature live music and food donated by event sponsors, Bell said.
In the evening, participants will gather for the luminaria ceremony, a tradition created to honor the people who are fighting the disease and to remember the ones whose lives were taken.
“My dad has skin cancer and leukemia. I’m doing this in honor of him and the struggles we’ve gone through together,” said Belmont student Megan Schnupp.
To participate in Relay for Life, people can sign up for teams and work together to reach a fundraising goal. The day of the event, the teams who raised the most money will receive prizes. This year, the event’s theme is BevRelay Hills. There are also incentives along the way for fundraising teams.
Whether or not people have a team, Relay for Life leadership hopes everyone will come together in order to reach the goal of raising $50,000 by the end of the event.
Belmont Relay for Life has already raised more than $30,000 according to the Relay for Life website.
This is about three times more than the average Relay for Life event raises in its first year, according to the Belmont Relay for Life Facebook page.
All of the money raised will go to the ACS helping with cancer research, patient support, prevention, treatment, management and fundraising expenses, said Miracle.
“We’ve seen a 23 percent decline in cancer rates since 1991. That’s 1.7 million fewer cancer deaths,” according to the Relay for Life website.
This event is an “opportunity to find substance in something on campus, feel fulfilled and find people who share the same passions,” said Morello.
Click here to sign up for the event, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
This article written by Delia Rowland.