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By Marissa Burns
Over 100 students gave up their Friday night in order to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
On Friday, April 21, the SECU arena stayed open from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. It allowed students from over 15 organizations to walk laps, donate money, and listen to the stories of those who survived their battle with cancer.
“My first relay was in eighth grade,” said Cristal Willis, 22, community manager at the American Cancer Society. “When I came to college I was urged to join and then soon after they asked me to become the chair of the organization.”
Willis helped plan Towson’s relay event last year when she was the chair of the organization.
“It’s a ton of work,” Willis said. “We start planning in September and don’t stop until the event is here,” Willis said.
They relay for life organization has weekly meetings in order to make sure the event runs smoothly. They secure sponsorships and T-shirts. They also have to make sure everything is set with the Towson event staff.
Many sororities and organizations came out on Friday to show their support and listen to the many cancer survivors in attendance. They set up bake sales and activities in each of their designated sections so others at the event could check them out and donate a dollar or two.
Every hour the volunteers for relay would host a new activity for everyone to play. At one point 20 college students piled onto a giant tarp to play a large game on twister. While an hour later they played human hungry hungry hippos.
“We want everyone to have a good time, without forgetting about the reason they’re here.” Willis said.
They only have one rule at Relay for Life, and that’s to keep walking. They remind everyone to have someone from their party walking the track at all points in the night.
About halfway through the students hold the luminaria ceremony. Every white bag that is put throughout the room is lit with Christmas lights and all the other lights in the room go off. Everyone in the room is handed a glow stick and told to break it only when it pertains to them. A student on stage says that if cancer has affected their mother or father to break their glow stick. They go down the line of family members and then move on to friends. Soon, everyone in the room has a glowing glow stick in their hand.
“It’s a very emotional time,” Willis said. “I always cry during the ceremony even when it doesn’t pertain to me.”
Everyone in the room is asked to take a lap in silence. Instead of taking just one lap, the entire room walks for ten minutes in silence, until someone turns on a slideshow of cancer victims and survivors.
“It still amazes me to see all the support from college students,” Willis said.
Although by 3 a.m. the number of students still in attendance was scarce, the support that the students have for the organization is uncanny.