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Weber State University raised over $10,6[media-credit name="Amanda Lewark" align="alignright" width="300"][/media-credit]00 for cancer research during the overnight Relay for Life event Friday in the Swenson Gym.
Relay for Life encourages communities to come together and support the fight against cancer. WSU students and community members participated in activities from 6 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday.
The night began with dinner dedicated to cancer survivors and their caregivers. Twenty cancer survivors of all ages came out to the dinner with a special friend or family member who helped them during their treatment.
“The dinner is a key part of the Relay for Life event. The survivors are the ones we are honoring. We see them as visions of hope,” said WSU student and Chair of Great West Division Relay for Life Youth Task Force Thomas Judd. “It gives them time to relax and mingle with other survivors, and we make them feel like rock stars.”
Judd has worked with Relay for Life for almost six and a half years. He joined the committee at WSU last year, and with the help of other students, they put together the event in two months.
“I love putting on the events and seeing everyone come together,” Judd said.
Tiara and Angelique Collins, a mother and daughter duo, performed songs dedicated to the survivors and their caregivers.
“When you have cancer, you learn who your friends are and you learn who your family is,” Angelique said.
The duo sang a rendition of Adele’s “Someone Like You” and asked for audience participation. At the end of the song, survivors and caregivers were singing along, many with tears in their eyes.
After the dinner, events opened to students and community members. At 8 p.m. a Miss(ter) Relay Pageant was held where each team chose a male member to dress as a beauty pageant contestant. Each contestant was to come prepared with a talent to perform for the audience.
The night was centered on the Luminaria Ceremony that took place at 10 p.m. During the ceremony, the lights were turned off, and lanterns were lit for the survivors. A short clip was played asking why people were here tonight and how cancer has affected them. Students and attendees were all given a glow stick and asked to stand up when they saw their reason. By the end of the presentation everyone in attendance was standing together.
“This ceremony is the heart and soul of the night,” Judd said.
Other events throughout the night included team activities from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m., a Root Beer Pong Tournament at 3 a.m., and Rise and Shine Yoga at 5 a.m.
“I love this. It’s so much fun. This is my second year coming to Weber State for this event,” said Traci Lundquist. “I drive from Idaho, and I love the atmosphere down here.”
At 7 a.m., the night came to an end with the Fight Back and Closing Ceremonies.
Caregivers of the survivors in attendance were asked to make signs stating what they have done for their cancer survivors. They each held up their signs at the survivor ceremonies for everyone to see for the first time. A few read “I was your strength when you were weak,” “I stayed by your side to hold your hand,” and “I moved home so I could spend every day of your life with you”.
To learn more about Relay for Life and how to help in the fight against cancer, visit relayforlife.org.