Thursday, April 25, 2013

Students fight cancer one step at a time at Relay for Life

By Reland Tuomi, News Writer

Throughout this week, people walking through Red Square have probably seen the little flags and banners lining the walkways. These purple pennants are not just for decoration, but to also remind everyone of one simple thing: cancer sucks.

"Everybody at one point in their lives has been affected by cancer," junior Kina Ackerman, a member of the swim team’s relay team, said.

Relay for Life is an organized fundraising event to raise money for cancer research. The event began in 1985 in Tacoma, Wash. when Gordy Klatt raised $27,000 for the American Cancer Society by walking and running on a track for 24 hours.

According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 8 million Americans alive today have had a history of cancer. With this staggering statistic, most people know someone who has been affected by cancer, directly or indirectly. Many of the participants in Relay are walking or running for this purpose.

"My grandfather died in 2005 of lung cancer," senior Michael Brasgalla, a swim team relay member, said. "That has made a big impact on me."

Rachel Samardich, a junior, is also participating for friends and family members. "My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in my junior year of high school," Samardich said.

Relay for Life is not just an event for those who have lost someone personally, but also for those who want to show their support in the fight against cancer.

"I am able to walk," Samardich said. "And there are so many people who are confined to beds. I’m physically able to, so I should."

PLU usually holds their Relay for Life event at the track on lower campus, but this year it will be held on upper campus around Red Square.

"We wanted to get Relay for Life back to the heart of campus," junior Johanna Mueller, chair of the Relay for Life committee, said. "A smaller track will also keep people more together."

When asked about the expected number of attendees, Mueller shook her head and said, "we are trying to get away from number of people and focus on awareness," Mueller said. "We want people with cancer to know they have our support."

Relay for Life will begin tonight at 6 p.m. in Red Square and will go on until tomorrow at noon.

"Come out if you can," Samardich said. "Get out and walk."