Relay for Life to raise cancer awareness
The fifth-annual Baldwin City Relay for Life will begin on Saturday, April 29 at 6 p.m. at the Baker University track.
Relay participants will take turns walking around the track until 7:30 Sunday morning as part of a nation-wide effort to raise money for the American Cancer Society and to honor people struggling with cancer. There will be other
events taking place at the track throughout the night.
"The whole idea of the relay is to put people in the position of being the one who finds out they have cancer," said Grace Vaughn, who has been active in organizing the event.
The relay is designed to help others experience the journey of a cancer patient. The relay begins as the sun sets. This is meant to reflect the uncertainty and fear people feel when they are first diagnosed with cancer.
As the night goes on, relay walkers may become more tired and uncomfortable, just as cancer patients often struggle through many sessions of treatment. The relay ends after the sun rises, and relay participants feel the new sense of hope that recovering cancer patients experience.
The walk takes place in teams, with 8-14 people taking turns walking. This is to show that friends and family members fight cancer together. Vaughn remembers the relay last year as both a fun and a moving experience.
"Everybody's there together and it's just a wonderful time to honor those who are struggling with cancer," she said.
Again this year, the relay will involve many cancer survivors. The first lap of the relay at 6 p.m. will be completed by people who have successfully battled cancer. The track itself will be lit by luminaries which have been purchased by people wishing to honor friends or family members who have
struggled with cancer. At 9 p.m. there will be a ceremony where the names on the bags will be read.
"It gets to be pretty emotional," Vaughn said.
Kim Christian agrees., "It really moves you, looking at all the luminaries thinking, 'I have nothing to complain about.'"
Christian walked with a Relay for Life team last year. This year she has also been involved with the relay by doing community outreach, and letting people know what is involved in the event.
"There's so much going on there's
games, there's contests," Christian said. "It's so much fun."
New events taking place this year will include karaoke and a talent contest. There will also be team competitions. Christian's team is called the "Heartthrobs," and they'll participate in the tent decorating competition.
Christian is also looking forward to walking which she says "is not as hard as you would think it would be when you have a full team."
She feels that the relay helps raise awareness about what it's like to live with cancer. "Once you walk you get a whole new respect for people who have to go through this."
Money raised by the Relay for Life helps to fund cancer research and to assist those being treated for cancer.