On April 17, nearly 2,000 students will gather to “finish the fight against cancer” at Michigan State University’s 2015 Relay for Life. This event will take place in the famous Jack Breslin Student Events Center, where students will stay from 6 p.m. on Friday until 6 a.m. on Saturday “because cancer never sleeps.” Students will hear from cancer survivors, walk laps around the Breslin, have onsite fundraisers and attend a luminaria ceremony to honor those who lost their lives to cancer. There will be performances from student a Capella and dance groups, a dodgeball tournament and a few surprises for the participants throughout the night. The event is planned and executed by Spartans Fighting Cancer, MSU’s chapter of the American Cancer Society’s Colleges Against Cancer program.
Last year, MSU’s Relay for Life event had more than 5,000 participants and raised $250,000. This year, the event’s goal is to raise $300,000 for the American Cancer Society. Participants sign up with a team then compete against other teams to raise the most money for the cause. So far, 61 teams are signed up, with nearly 2,000 participants. The teams range in size from five to 300 people and are made up of MSU clubs, local sponsors, Greek Life, Spartans Fighting Cancer and many more.
Throughout the night, there are three ceremonies: Celebrate, Remember and Fight Back. The Celebrate Ceremony is to recognize the cancer survivors at the event. “We have a survivor speaker and do a survivor lap around the track. Survivors are our heroes,” says Sarah Hoffman, president of Spartans Fighting Cancer and a cancer survivor herself. Later in the night is the Remember Ceremony. Hoffman says that participants are invited to walk down to the stage and share who they Relay for. “During our Remember Ceremony, we remember the loved ones we have lost to cancer by having people express who they Relay for. We turn the lights down and have glow sticks. It is the light of our loved ones.” The Fight Back Ceremony is last, and is to advocate cancer prevention. At the end of the night, the team that raises the most money is announced and the total amount of money raised is revealed.
Hoffman says that this year’s Relay for Life will be full of surprises. “Spartans Fighting Cancer is very excited about this year’s Relay. This is our second year with Greek Life and this year we have a Greek Chair on our Executive Board. We are planning on having ‘Midnight Munchies,’ which will be late night bites from restaurants in East Lansing.” Last year, the event was confined to the main gym of the Breslin, but Hoffman says that Relay will take up most of the building this April. “We are utilizing the Breslin to our full ability. We will have access to the meeting rooms on the Mezzanine level for the survivor dinner and are going to be using the practice gym for our dodgeball tournament.”
Hoffman first became involved in Relay for Life in 2008, when her best friend was diagnosed with brain cancer. She participated in Relay for Life in her hometown of Saginaw, Mich., until coming to East Lansing. Hoffman says that Relay for Life is important because everyone has a connection to cancer. “Personally, it is important to me because I had cancer, and many of my loved ones, including my best friend and my first love, have died from cancer. I know the pain of going through treatment. I know the pain of watching a loved one die of cancer. No one should have to go through either of those things.”
You can register for Relay for Life at relayforlife.org/msumi or visit msurelay.com for more information.
Brittney Urich is a junior professional writing major specializing in public relations. She is a travel lover, sports enthusiast and self-proclaimed baker extraordinaire. When she’s not blogging or reading, she can usually be found outside.