Relay for Life takes on cancer

The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, an event with food, entertainment, and education, reaches FAMU track on February 28, and has already made history.

FAMU is the first historically black university to host the event. This is also the first time students have organized a Relay for Life in Tallahassee and northern Florida.

“Since the Relay for Life is such an innovative way to raise funds for cancer research and we are the first HBCU and first school in north Florida to host the relay, we want to create a standard for others to follow”, says Shara Senior, student government association surgeon general

According to the Relay for Life web site, the event started in 1985 when Dr. Gordon Klatt of Tacoma, Wash., raised $27,000 for his local American Cancer Society by walking and running for 24 hours at the University of Puget Sound.

In the 18 years since its inception, the Relay for Life has occurred across the United States and in seven other countries. The ACS reports the events earnings as more than $220 million in 2002.

Margaret Bemis, special events manager for the ACS in Tallahassee, said the money supports a variety of the ACS’s programs, including research, cancer education, scholarship programs and the Reaching Out to Cancer Kids, or ROCK, summer program.

According to Senior, FAMU’s goal is $35,000. The 30 to 35 teams expected to participate will be responsible for FAMU reaching its goal.

Bemis claims the heart of the event are the teams of 10 to 15 people that walk the entire 18 hours to raise money for the ACS and spread Relay for Life’s message of hope for a cure.

“This event is so important that we registered two teams. There are organizations on campus with more manpower than us, and if they can, they should definitely register two teams,” said Reginald Wesley, the captain of the Goldmember Phamily team.

Though the Relay for Life will begin at 3 p.m. and end at 9 a.m., Bemis emphasizes that the fight against cancer is even longer.

“The Relay for Life is held for 18 hours because cancer never sleeps, and it is important to show our ability to come out of the darkness with a cure”, says Bemis.

For FAMU students, Senior believes the event is more important than at any other northern Florida university because of the high mortality rates associated with cancer in blacks.

“Because of the lack of education and awareness, the Relay for Life brings cancer to the forefront.”

“It is much more than a fundraiser”, Senior said.