Community comes together for Relay for Life celebration

Cancer survivors and supporters walk on the track to honor the successful fight against cancer. Iowa State hosted Relay for Life at Lied Recreation Center on Friday, March 7.

Tanner Judd

On March 7 at 7:00 p.m. nearly 1,300 people filed into Lied Recreation Center with a goal in mind. The next morning, they walked out with it accomplished.

The 2014 Relay For Life of Story County is an event organized by Colleges Against Cancer and partners with the American Cancer Society.  

The fundraising walk and overnight event focused on honoring survivors and remembering victims of cancer as well as raising money to help find a cure. Some of the survivors honored experienced the event themselves.

“I had cancer when I was young, so it’s nice to know that people support cancer survivors and really want to make a change,” said Lucas David, junior in psychology.

David is a survivor of Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer, which he had when he was six years old. David spoke about his experience with cancer at Relay For Life in 2012.

“I used to be shy talking about my experience and stuff, but now I’m pretty open to whoever wants to hear it,” said David.

The goal for this year’s Relay For Life was to raise $93,000.

This year Relay For Life raised $102,995, the highest total of the last three years; 97 percent or $99,905, goes directly to the American Cancer Society to aid research efforts.

“It’s good to know that it’s actually going towards research, there’s some places where it doesn’t actually go towards research,” said Katherine Philbrick, a freshman participant.

This year Colleges Against Cancer celebrated Relay for Life with a birthday theme; according to the American Cancer Society’s website, the society has worked more than 100 years to create a world with less cancer and more birthdays.

This year’s event included 27 survivors and more than 1,200 other participants. The enormity of the event wasn’t lost on David.  

“It’s definitely the biggest one I’ve been to,” said David.

Kaitlyn Gull, junior in kinesiology and health and a member of the Colleges Against Cancer executive board, also said that she noticed more people at this year’s event than years past.

Gull, a cancer survivor herself, is the Luminaria executive for Relay For Life. During the Luminaria ceremony, participants can write the name of someone who has passed away from cancer or is currently battling the disease on a bag. The bags are then filled with glow sticks and the lights are turned out to create a tribute to cancer victims.

“It’s pretty emotional, I lost my mom to breast cancer when I was 8, so I just kind of thought about that,” said Alyssa Ragner, a freshman participant.

As Luminaria executive, Gull didn’t get to participate directly in the event but watched from afar.

“It was actually kind of cool watching people get up when family members were called … That was a lot more impactful than it was last year,” said Gull.

After the Luminaria ceremony, a live band played to continue the celebration as Frisbees and footballs flew through the air.

“It makes you have hope that we’ll find a cure [for cancer] one day,” said David.