This weekend was Relay For Life, an event that benefits the American Cancer Society. On my campus, Relay is a big deal. Teams compete in a March Madness style bracket, compete for Team of the Night, and compete to bring in the most money. (I have to brag, my team won the bracket and Team of the Night and came in fourth out of 63 teams in fundraising). We have a bounce house (complete with jousting this year, I totally lost when I played), magic show, two acapella concerts, dance games on a wii, face painting, bake sales, dance performances, great music, group zumba, and group yoga. My team raised over $3,400 before Relay, and then that night another $181 from a bake sale. Only about twelve of us stayed the whole night, and by the morning we were dragging our blankets around the track while we all walked the final hour of laps together.
I arrived late because I had to work a symposium for the history department, so I missed the opening ceremony and the survivor lap, but even without those two beautiful things, Relay was a constant show of how much compassion there really is in the world. When people talk about the apathy of my generation, I will forever point them to this Relay, and to ones like it all across the country that are planned, executed, and attended by college students, and to the ones at high schools. You can say that this generation doesn’t care about anyone, but in the face of something like this, where a college community raised over $60,000 in a couple of months for such a fantastic cause, how can you believe that?
One of the most moving parts of the night was the luminaria ceremony. A luminaria is a small bag that has the name of a person who fought cancer on it, and they’re filled with glow sticks. Then a ceremony honoring all of those people is held, and a lot of people cry, including this girl. I cried so much my Little and I had to hold each other just to walk.
Then of course came staying up all night. You’re allowed to nap, or even sleep for several hours, and you certainly don’t have to stay all night, but I did, and most of my team that stayed the whole night stayed up the whole night. There was a scavenger hunt, which my team completed all but one section of, and there is a lot of music to keep you up. At about 2 am I led some friends who weren’t on my team, and two who were, in a “We don’t care what we look like, we need to stay awake!” parade dancing around the track.
(Morning yoga together, can you spot me?)
The whole night is full of activities as well. We had a dance team, two singing performances, zumba, and yoga. Despite the deep sadness at the luminaria ceremony, the whole night was a lot of fun. Spending twelve hours awake with my brothers fighting for a good cause was worth the little sleep I got afterward.
If there is a relay near you, I encourage you to participate. If you can’t participate, then donate. The money goes to the American Cancer Society, and everyone knows someone who’s had cancer.
(the tiny one in the middle of the bottom row is my brother Elise)
And if you go to a Relay somewhere, thank the people who planned it, it’s a lot of work.