UWL Hosts Final Relay for Life

Karley Betzler, Staff Reporter

Relay for Life is described, on the UWL events calendar, as, “a fundraising event for the American Cancer Society, including tons of games, raffles, ceremonies, and a great sense of comradery with people who are passionate about the fight against cancer.” UWL’s last Relay for Life was true to its description.

Molly Schuman, a UWL student and member of the Sponsorship Team, explained the team’s involvement in her second year working this event. “Our preparation was going out into the community, like to businesses, and asking if they would like to donate to our event,” Schuman said that they could donate anything for the raffle or monetary donations.

As for monetary donations, Megan Bogatitus, a member of the Sponsorship Team working her third year for the event, gave her estimate. “I think it was close to $10,000, but it’ll be more than that after the event.” Margaret Koehn, UWL’s Colleges Against Cancer Secretary, reported that this year’s Relay for Life ended up raising close to $30,000 for the American Cancer Society.

Unfortunately, this year’s Relay for Life was the final one to be held at UWL. This was due to budget cuts that led to funding and organizing issues. Schuman explained that herself and Bogatitus, “didn’t really know it was going to be the last [Relay for Life] until about a week ago. It just makes it a little more memorable because it will be our last one here.” Schuman discussed the future plans for this event. “We’ll know in a few weeks when we have our last meeting, but as of right now we don’t know.

One of the highlights of  Relay for Life was the Luminaria ceremony. Tiffany Moskal, Luminaria Chair, explained, “the Luminaria ceremony which includes buying bags either in memory of or in honor of a loved one.” The Luminaria table was also selling bracelets for $5 each with the proceeds, like the rest of the event, going to the American Cancer Society.

Moskal stated, “Tonight we all wear bracelets. If we wear it on our left arm, it’s in memory of the person, if we wear it on our right arm, it’s in honor of the person.” Each color signifies a different person. “Blue is in honor or memory of a grandparent. Yellow is a parent, green is an aunt or uncle, and a pink or purple color is for a friend or any other person in your life, such as a coach or a teacher.”

As for the Luminaria ceremony itself, Moskal explained the plans. “During the ceremony, we ask people to speak what their bag means to them. So, say a person walks up there, and their bag is in memory of or in honor of a parent, then they’ll talk about their parent.” Moskal added, “They explain what they put on their bag and why. Then, after that’s all done, we’ll line all the bags around the track.” This is followed by each person going up to the track for a silent lap, during which, “they’ll each grab a candle and place them in the bag as a way of illuminating it. Then everyone will walk around for a lap of silence in remembrance of those that we’ve lost.”

Other events taking place during Relay for Life was a Survivor Reception, which also was where attendees could buy concessions. UWL’s LC Hip Hop team performed as well as taught a hip-hop class afterward. There was also Blacklight Climbing, a Zen Relaxation Room, and a student band that performed.

Schuman noted, “[Relay for Life is] a really good way to raise awareness for cancer research and continue to raise awareness for it. I mean, It’s something that’s kind of put to the back burner and it needs to be more open and there needs to be more awareness about it.”