In 2010, 63,890 new cases of cancer were recorded in Illinois alone. New York had 103,340, California, 157,320 and Texas, 101,120. Going beyond the States, the World Health Organization (WHO) projects that cancer will become the leading cause of death globally in 2010, surpassing heart disease and stroke.
Numbers can get your attention, but what about names and faces? How many of you have been personally touched by cancer? In my family, I’ve lost my aunt Edith and cousin Dawn. But it’s not just limited to family; it’s also been a few close friends, their family members and co-workers.
For the past two years, I’ve served as a committee chair leading college students in Relay for Life. Sponsored by the American Cancer Society, Relay is, “a life-changing event that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease.”
My involvement with Relay actually started when I was a junior in college when it first came to our campus. I was always participating in philanthropies, campus ministry, tutoring ESL kids, so Relay seemed like a natural fit. Plus, it was my opportunity to remember those I’ve lost, recognize those I still have in my life and to support those I had yet to meet. It also didn’t hurt that a few of my close friends and sorority sisters took major leadership roles developing the event. And wanting to be a good, supportive friend, I signed up as a team captain two years in a row.
As an adult now leading students, I’m able to experience Relay in a whole new way. It’s truly amazing. As someone who can enjoy a bird’s eye view of the event from start to finish, I appreciate all the work that is accomplished. Months of preparation including recruiting teams and individuals to participate, hosting fundraising activities and getting the word out pays off in one timeslot of 12 hours. Seeing a variety of people usually segregated by labels of students, staff and faculty come together over shared experiences is a powerful moment. And I’m proud to be a part of it year after year.
Do you Relay?