The ABCs Of Relay For Life At Penn State
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The ABCs Of Relay For Life At Penn State

Here is everything the community needs to know about the Pennsylvania State University's Relay for Life organization.

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The ABCs Of Relay For Life At Penn State
Photo by Julia Mertes

Relay for Life is an organization dedicated to raising funds and awareness for the American Cancer Society and cancer research. Throughout the world, people join together and participate in these events with friends and family. At Penn State, WE ARE no exception. Students have the opportunity to join a team or committee in order to aid the cause. Participants fundraise throughout the year leading up to a massive walking event in the spring, and at the event, people remember those who lost their battle to cancer, those currently in the midst of fighting, and those to be diagnosed in the future. It is an organization filled with bucket-loads of hope and endless support for the cause, and here are the ABCs to the organization.

A. Awareness

Throughout the year, Relay for Life informs the public about important preventative measures to take to lessen cancer risks. More so, the organization distributes cancer statistics to inform the Penn State community about cancer rates and facts. For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the organization shared information in a "Paint PSU Pink" event. In an Instagram post, the organization shared that "268,000 people are expected to be newly diagnosed with breast cancer this year in the U.S." Such information is shared throughout the year in order to draw awareness to the cause and inform people about cancer.

B. Business Support

To support the mission, businesses can sponsor or simply make donations to Relay for Life. Depending on their donation amount, these companies receive benefits. One main benefit for companies who sponsor Relay for Life is increased publicity.

C. Cure

Relay for Life participants raise money with the hopes of uncovering a cancer cure to end the needless suffering. The American Cancer Society reportedly received more than $417 million dollars as of August 2019 for "funding potentially life-saving cancer research grants." Through research grants, scientists and researchers discover new and better treatment options that also aid in improving cancer survival rates.

D. Donations

Want to make a donation? Click here! You can donate to the actual event, to a specific team, or to an individual. It is up to you.

Throughout the year, there are other ways to donate as well. For instance, people can make a donation to the donation boxes around your hometown. Just throw your spare change in after checking out at the store. People can also support the various Relay for Life fundraisers throughout the year.

E. Every life matters — adults and youth

Relay for Life raises money for adults and youth alike. Unlike some non-profit organizations that focus solely on raising money for childhood cancer, Relay for Life contributes to research for both age groups. It is all-inclusive.

F. Fundraising

In order to get involved, attend and support Relay for Life's upcoming fundraisers. In the coming months, the club will be holding a virtual Turkey Trot 5K event and Elf Calls. Also, a "Give It Up" campaign is occurring this November. For the campaign, the organization is promoting people to give up a guilty pleasure for a week, or longer, and donate the savings to Penn State's Relay. If interested in participating, contact Penn State Relay for Life for more information. One of the best ways to reach out with questions and comments is through social media. Reference letter "G" for specifics.

In the past, the organization has held a variety of activities to raise money for the cause. Most recently, the organization held a "Treat for your Boo" fundraiser where committee members made and sold sugary treats to State College residents, mainly students. These are just a small sample of the events hosted by the Penn State organization throughout the year.

G. Grow social media followings

Follow the following social media accounts to stay up-to-date on what Penn State University's Relay for Life organization is doing:

  • Instagram: @psurelayforlife
  • Twitter: @PSURelayForLife
  • Facebook: @Relay for Life at Penn State

H. Hope never stops

A key motto upheld in Relay for Life is to never stop hoping. To make it through a cancer diagnosis, the patients and loved ones cannot give up and surrender in the battle. Hence, when volunteering for Relay for Life, people continue hoping for the glorious day when cancer is no more.

I. Inform the public

Although some individuals speculate if Relay for Life is a solid organization to support, people involved in the organization can verify its validity and tremendous impact on people's lives. Informing the public of current information is essential for having a successful organization. They try to inspire people to join the organization and spread its message. Supporting Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society is essential during this time because, due to COVID-19, the organization will face a shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars in annual donations. This means programs and research will be put in jeopardy if the decrease in funding continues.

J. Join

No matter who you are, consider joining Relay for Life. If you go to Penn State, join a committee or a team. Another option is to join your hometown's Relay for Life event and get involved with your friends and family there. No matter what, do not be held back from joining this life-changing organization.

K. Kick Cancer's Butt

Relay for Life supports cancer patients in their battle to kick cancer's butt. Through support, the patients and their families can focus on what is really important. Instead of worrying about the unimportant details, like lodging and monetary concerns, the families can focus on health and wellness. This aids in reducing stress levels for all involved.

L. Luminarias

During the Relay events, Luminarias brighten up the night in a memorable showcase of love and community spirit. People purchase Luminaria bags and decorate them in honor or remembrance of their loved ones' who faced or are facing a battle with cancer. Following a Luminaria ceremony, a candle or light is added to each bag causing them to glow brightly and demonstrate the impact of cancer. These bags signify the lives touched by cancer and the continuous battle to end the suffering caused by the despicable disease. In essence, Luminarias signify the "light in the darkness" and the bright future to come in cancer research.

M. Mission Statement

Just like the American Cancer Society, Relay for Life's mission statement is "to save lives, celebrate lives, and lead the fight for a world without cancer."

N. Nationwide and Worldwide

According to the organization, Relay for Life transpires in "more than 5,200 communities and 20 countries." Through these fundraising efforts, the movement raises more than $400 million to maintain essential programs and advance research studies.

O. Opening ceremony

To kick off the yearly Relay for Life walking event, an Opening Ceremony is held. During this ceremony, committee members recognize and welcome Relay participants for their work and contributions thus far. They also encourage fundraising and support during the rest of the event. The purpose of this ceremony is to encourage excitement and celebration for hours to come.

P. Purple Ribbons

When at a Relay for Life event, a certain color will stand out to your eye. That is the flamboyant color purple. Just as every cancer type has a color designated to it, Relay for Life has purple. The purple color represents all cancers and symbolizes the hope and faith people have for a cure one day.

Q. Quality

Do you want a quality organization to be a member of? Have you been looking for a cause to stand behind whole-heartedly? Well, Relay for Life is that organization. Participants find a community when joining Relay. They gain a life goal to motivate them as well. At the same time, patients gain a support system. Thus, Relay offers benefits to all people involved.

R. Remembrance

Throughout the events, participants remember all the people who lost their lives to the awful disease. By remembering the fallen fighters, Relay for Life volunteers are pushed to better support the cause and what it stands for. This is especially true when the cancer patient being remembered is a loved one who was taken too soon.

S. Survivors

Survivors hold a key role in the Relay for Life events. In fact, some survivors form their own teams. Then, at the end-of-the-year walking event, these individuals are recognized through a survivor lap and ceremony.

T. Teams

People can participate in Relay for Life by joining a team led by a designated team captain. These teams compete against each other to raise the most money for the American Cancer Society. The teams have a friendly competition to raise the most money by the end of the yearly event. Anyone can form a team and contribute to the cause. In fact, many clubs at Penn State form their own Relay for Life teams to support the organization.

U. Unite

Relay for Life forms a community of like-minded people who desire to fight for a common cause. Friends can easily be made through various bonding events and club planning activities. So, if a person desires to meet approachable individuals, Relay for Life is the organization to turn to.

V. Volunteers

People can participate in Relay for Life in various roles. At Penn State, students can join a committee and aid in preparations and planning throughout the year.

  • The Mission Committee organizes Luminaria sales and corresponds with cancer survivors throughout the year.
  • The Administrative Committee plans internal club bonding events, acts as treasurer and secretary, and schedules club events.
  • The Entertainment Committee organizes entertainment, like performers and games, for Relay events.
  • The Fundraising Committee plans and constructs fundraisers and coordinates with businesses in order to gain sponsorships.
  • The Merchandise Committee creates, orders, and sells merchandise throughout the years.
  • The Public Relations Committee oversees the social media accounts and records moments throughout the year digitally.
  • The Recruitment and Involvement Committee coordinates sponsorships, concessions, basket raffles, and hospitality.
  • The Executive Event Director oversees the committees and works with the American Cancer Society to spread cancer awareness and the organization's mission.

There are other ways to get involved with Penn State Relay for Life as well. Instead of being a member of a committee, people can join teams to aid in fundraising throughout the year. These participants are led by team captains who spend the year recruiting new participants, organizing fundraisers, and supporting the cause. If interested, the American Cancer Society could always use volunteers as well!

W. Walk

Although running is not required during the yearly event, walking certainly is encouraged. For the 12-hour event at Penn State, participants (or scheduled team members) attempt to continue walking in honor of the endless battle cancer patients face.

X. eXtra support

Relay for Life aids in providing extra support to cancer patients. According to the American Cancer Society, the funds raised through Relay aid in providing families with resources and information. The fundraising efforts also provide patients with free lodging and transportation for chemotherapy as well as a helpline for concerns.

Y. Yearly Event

Throughout the year, Relay for Life volunteers raise money for the cause through smaller fundraisers and events. This all leads up to the end-of-the-year celebration in the spring. At this yearly event, people walk in honor of the endless battle people with cancer face. Some events promote walking for 24 hours; however, Penn State's event goes for 12 hours. Throughout time, there are also ceremonies, activities, and food to continue raising money for cancer research and patient services.

Penn State's yearly event is tentatively scheduled for April 2021.

Z. Zzzs when cancer stops

Battling cancer is a never-ending battle. So, Relay for Life participants never stop fighting as well. As Helen Keller said, "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."


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