Illness inspires many to participate in Relay

Florida A&M University’s students are currently preparing for its seventh annual Relay for Life event, beginning March 27, 2009 at 3 p.m., and ending on March 28, 2009 at 9 a.m.
For some, the event is a chance to get involved for a worthy cause. 
But for one FAMU student the event is a bit more personal.   
“This is a really positive event that I enjoy participating in,” said Derrick McMahon, 21, a junior history student from Frostproof. “My aunt’s death played a big role and is part of the reason why I participate in Relay for Life.”
McMahon’s aunt fell victim to breast cancer when he was a child. 
He said her death gave him the resolve to “help in any way possible.”
“I’ve participated in every Relay for Life fundraiser since 2006,” McMahon said.  “I feel as though I’m giving back to the society. It’s the least I could do and my aunt would really appreciate it.”
Hosted by the American Cancer Society, the Relay has been around since 1985 and served as both an educational and recreational activity for those involved in the fight against cancer.

“For those who don’t attend I feel they’re missing a wonderful educational experience; nonetheless, it’s a fun event with peers all for a great cause which raises awareness about a deadly disorder that can affect millions,” said Le’Adonis Ferguson, 19, a junior business administration student from Miami.

According to the American Cancer Society’s Web site, there are many people who live with cancer and either ignore the symptoms or are not aware that they suffer from them.

Relay for Life works to bring awareness and hope to those who suffer from all forms of cancer.

“She was  diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997, but the doctors said that she had lived with it for longer than that,” McMahon said.  “I’m sure she knew she had it but like many people she was reluctant to go get checked out.”

So far, there has been a good response from FAMU teams including some Greek fraternities and the Graphic Arts Club.

To participate in the fundraiser, teams are required to pay a $100 entry fee and will receive a t-shirt upon completion of registration.

Throughout the event there will be a movie showing, live entertainment, a DJ, and games.

This year’s goal is $35,000, 50 teams and 40 survivors.

The coordinators of the fundraiser will accept donations throughout the event.

 At the end of the fundraiser the money is totaled and the team that raises the most money is pronounced the winner.

“[I feel that] the prize for participating in Relay for Life is knowing that you saved someone’s life by raising money,” said Dominique Bercy, 23, a senior English student from Port St. Lucie and event chair for the Relay.

For McMahon, the prize is honoring the memory of his aunt through his work with Relay for Life.

“My aunt’s death was the single most heartbreaking tragedy to me,” McMahon said.  “I was 12 years old and thought, ‘Cancer, what’s the big deal?’ When she died no one was prepared for it.  I want to help raise money for a cure.”