Instead of joining in early on the Spring Jam festivities on Friday, April 21, a host of University of Minnesota students decided to donate their time and talents in a different way to support efforts for cancer research by attending the U of M's Relay for Life.
Relay for Life is the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society that is staffed and coordinated by volunteers in more than 5,200 communities and 27 countries. At the event that lasts around 6-24 hours, each team member takes turns walking around a track at all times to signify that cancer never sleeps.
In addition to walking the track, participants visit and set up team "campsites" to participate in a variety of games and fun-filled activities while learning how to be the best advocate for the American Cancer Society that they can be. All the money raised goes towards cancer research to "help find a cure" and counts toward the overall team fundraising goal.
Junior U of M student Sylwia Pietura attended this weekend's event and loved the experience as a second-year participant. As the U-Finance Head of Community Service, it was her duty to organize her team and they even ended up making cupcakes for the event.
"As a club, we usually hold a bake sale in order to support the fundraising cause and this year we decided to make cupcakes—and delicious they were."
At the event, there was also a waffle bar, a table offering hand-drawn henna tattoos, a variety of blow-up obstacle courses, and silent auctions for different baskets donated by local businesses. Toward the end of the evening, there is a Luminaria Ceremony where participants can honor the memory of loved ones they've lost, those currently in treatment, and anyone else who has personally been affected by cancer. Luminarias are makeshift lanterns that get lit and then released into the air to remember and reflect on each life the light represents. For many, it can be a very emotional and rewarding experience—it is definitely a highlight for those who attend the event.
This is such an important event to be a part of because cancer doesn't discriminate as cancer affects everyone. Your odds of knowing someone that has cancer or having cancer personally affect you in some way is extremely high. That is just one of the reasons Pietura chose to be involved in the event.
"I really like learning about different causes and donating my time to help them. Tonight, for example, I signed up for the National Bone Marrow registry for 'Be The Match' because I was personally moved by the individual speaking about the cause. I like knowing that I can make a difference and I feel like it's especially important for young people to get involved."
So what are you waiting for? Create a fun team and join the fight to end cancer by signing up for a Relay for Life event near you. Events happen around the world daily and you can find the next closest event to you here.