Imagine a night filled with friendship, fun, and feelings of hope, compassion, and love. Picture pulling an all-nighter, but not because you’re cramming for an exam. Instead, you and your classmates are dancing, singing, playing goofy games, and simply enjoying life. In the midst of all this, you are celebrating those who have survived the horrible diseases that comprise cancer, strengthening those who continue to fight, and paying tribute to those who have passed.
Sound fantastic? Good news: you don’t have to imagine it. What we’ve just described is Relay for Life, and it’s happening at Saint Joseph’s University on April 22, 2016.
This year, Beautiful Social is working with Relay for Life at Saint Joseph’s University, and we’re thrilled to be supporting and growing an initiative that helps so many people who are diagnosed with cancer. All of our lives have been altered by the effects of this illness, making Relay’s mission to cure cancer a personal mission as well.
Still not convinced as to why you should come? Here are five reasons Relay for Life should be on everyone’s calendars this Spring.
- Relay for Life is a global initiative, with events in 20 countries worldwide. In 2009 alone, more than 5,000 Relay for Life events took place around the world, including the annual event at Saint Joseph's University. Relay is the largest nonprofit fundraising event in the world, and has raised nearly five billion dollars to date. These funds go towards research grants, cancer prevention programs, community and patient support initiatives, detection and treatment strategies, and the construction of Hope Lodges. The American Cancer Society and the Relay for Life initiative invites and encourages the entire world to take on the fight against cancer.
- Relay for Life is a bonding experience for the community. There’s no minimum number of people required to make a Relay team -- the more the merrier! Teams can be made up of your friends, family, fellow students, coworkers, or anyone who wants to get involved. All you have to do is search for your local Relay event on the website and create a team, or add yourself to a pre-existing team. All teams are encouraged to highlight their reasons for Relaying and show off their creativity through their group themes. Each team’s unique shirts, on-site fundraisers, and site decorations make the atmosphere incredibly colorful and eclectic which encourages teams to get involved and embrace the communal atmosphere.
- Relay for Life is more than simply walking around a track or gymnasium. There’s music, games, laughter, and camaraderie at Relay that cannot be replicated anywhere else. The good vibes alone will make you want to stay the entire night. The team component is constituent to Relay. The purpose is to show your support by being there when others cannot, and allowing others to be there for you, as well. But even more than the fun times, Relay creates a movement against a common enemy -- an army fighting for a world without cancer. Who knew a night of walking around a track and playing games could be so powerful?
- Relay for Life is a heartfelt way to remember those who have fought and those who are still fighting. Relay provides an opportunity for those who have been affected by cancer in some way to show solidarity with those fighting. This gives meaning to the phrase, “Cancer never sleeps, and neither do we!” At the beginning of the event, there are laps dedicated solely to cancer survivors and to caregivers, highlighting and paying tribute to their bravery and strength. Later in the ceremony, the luminaria ceremony pays tribute to those who have lost the battle to cancer and to those whom continue to fight. No member of the community is left behind during Relay; each and every Relayer is empowered while empowering others.
- Relay for Life is making a difference. Every year, the American Cancer Society looks to the Saint Joseph’s Relay for Life event to keep their organization running in the Philadelphia area. The fundraising goals are set with very specific numbers in mind so that, if reached, those goals will supply their institutions and their patients with the resources they need. In 2015, the SJU Relay for Life reached all of its goals: for fundraising, for number of participants in attendance, and for creating an amazingly fun event.
(This chart represents the goals of the 2015 Relay for Life Committee based on the amount of money needed for particular services. Source: DJ Carlino)
Cancer patients depend on the services funded by Relay for Life. For example, for every $83 raised enables one survivor to stay in a Hope Lodge while receiving treatments. The fundraising goals add up to much more than a numerical total. The goal is not to simply raise money, but to strive to make cancer patients’ living more comfortable. The ACS cannot fund all of these endeavors on their own, which is why the hard work of Saint Joseph’s University students and community members is so imperative.
From all of us on Team American Cancer Society, we hope you decide to Relay with us this year and join the fight against cancer!
- Kelsey Lazicki '16, Danielle Zabielski '17, Sara Scott '16, Kaitlin Neinstedt '17