Relay for Life: a night lit bright with so much hope
“My dad was diagnosed with non-treatable cancer when I was two months old,” said Patrick Ledford, first-year and emcee for the Relay for Life event on Fri., April 13.
Ledford’s story is just one of many that could be found at the Guilford football field, where the event took place. Young and old came out to support current cancer patients, caretakers and cancer survivors.
This event has become more than just a fundraiser for many of these people. “It’s become a family tradition,” said Ledford about his connection to Relay.
Relay for Life is an event established by the American Cancer Society that raises money to help combat cancer. Communities all across the nation host this event in the hopes of one day finding a cure and saving the lives of thousands.
ACS approached the Guilford softball team about hosting the event. Hooked on the idea of hosting a Relay event at Guilford, softball co-captains and seniors Morgan Andrews and Kim Keys jumped into action.
“When I look at what this event is for, I look at the bigger picture,” said Keys. “Take away my car, take away my materialistic things because they are nothing compared to the individuals who are fighting and those who have survived (cancer).”
The fundraising goal for the softball team is $15,000 and the online total is already at $6,000, which does not include the amount of money raised at the actual event. At the end of the night, another $700 was added to the overall total, and it does not stop there since the donation period is not over until August.
Donations were given by signing up online or by going to the event and participating in the various activities such as corn hole and crazy tennis. Donations and concessions profits went straight to the overall total.
There was definitely a great sense of community on the football field as an array of people walked, made chalk drawings expressing hope and painted paper bags to support loved ones battling with cancer.
“It was a great atmosphere and I had a great time walking and playing the different games,” said first-year Collin Rapp. “It’s always nice when you can combine having fun with a good cause.”
This event means something different for everyone, whether they’re actively fighting cancer or simply coming out the support this cause.
“Relay, to me, is doing my part to help cancer research any way I can,” said Rapp. “Though I don’t know anyone directly that has been affected by cancer, I know it’s a widespread problem so Relay is a way for me to help out.”
Some of the messages read “to celebrate more birthdays,” “soon to be cancer-free” or simply someone’s name.
The mood transitioned from lively and festive to much more somber and serious when it was time for the luminaria ceremony. As the crowd gathered in a circle, glow sticks in hand, everyone listened intently for the moment to make their glow sticks shine. Each crack of a glow stick represented a person who has or had cancer.
From children, to parents, to sisters and brothers, to neighbors and friends to relatives, everyone was thought of in that moment. More glow sticks crackled into illumination as each type of participant was called out.
While the entire crowd walked a silent lap, the lit bags spelled out the most essential word of all: hope.