Story by Larissa Wurm
“It’s a celebration. It celebrates all the lives society has given back to.”
That is how Annelise Tarnowski, a sophomore sociology and radio/television production major, describes Relay for Life. Tarnowski is also the vice president for Colleges Against Cancer, Drake University’s chapter of the American Cancer Society.
Relay for Life is Colleges Against Cancer’s biggest event of the year.
“Planning starts officially at the beginning of the school year,” Tarnowski said. “But we start brainstorming for the next one almost as soon as the last one ends.”
CAC members are divided into committees and given tasks and goals to accomplish each week.
“We have a sponsorship committee, food committee, fundraising, recruitment publicity and community outreach committees,” Tarnowski said.
The event is 12 hours long, beginning at 6 p.m. and going until 6 a.m.
What keeps it going? Tarnowski said there’s a lot of variation in the energy levels in the participants and that is helpful.
“We also have a lot of food and pizza, we play annoying songs and have tiny events throughout the relay,” Tarnowski said.
During the relay, there is a luminaria ceremony to honor survivors, caregivers and researchers. The ceremony includes a speaker who will tell a story or testimonial, then survivors, caregivers and other participants will walk a couple laps to view the luminaries set up around the track. The luminaries are made in recognition and remembrance of those lives that have been affected by cancer.
Erin Hogan, a senior law, politics, and society major and a former vice president of Colleges Against Cancer, said there are difficulties when planning a big event such as Relay for Life.
“We had to mediate between how the American Cancer Society does Relay for Life and how we do it as a Drake chapter,” Hogan said. “We also wanted to give people time to actually walk and participate in the relay, but people also get bored and tired.”
Hogan said it can be difficult to get entertainment to come later in the night.
“We would partner with SAB to get groups to come entertain at the beginning and save the games for later,” Hogan said. Previous entertainment acts have included the Treblemakers, Brocal Chords and comedians.
Regardless of difficulties in planning, Hogan said everyone should get involved with it. “It really is a great cause worth committing some time to,” she said.
“Relay for Life is an opportunity to see how you relate to others and what you have in common,” Parker Stinski, a first-year law, politics, and society, sociology, and anthropology major said. “It brings people together.”
Tarnowski joined CAC because she simply wanted to help.
“I’m one of those people that doesn’t have a close, personal story about cancer,” she said. “But cancer affects everyone. Seeing what this organization can do, I wanted to help further the chapter.”
“(Colleges Against Cancer) is such a fun organization,” Stinski said. “You meet so many people and you feel really good about what you’re doing.”
Relay for Life takes place in the Knapp Center. This year’s will be on April 5, starting at 6 p.m.
To get involved, check out the CAC Facebook page, where there is a video all about how to register for Relay for Life — there is a $10 registration fee. The will also explain how to start fundraising.