|Relay for Life to lap the Quad for a cause this April|
|Written by Jacob Lambert, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Wednesday, 18 April 2012 12:21|
As the ISU campus continues to blossom this spring, bringing forth a new palate of vibrant colors, there is one color that stands out among the rest during this month of April —purple.
Every April for the past decade, ISU has held its annual Relay for Life on the ISU Quad, an event that has raised a total of over $1.1 million for the American Cancer Society to aid in continued cancer research and treatment.
The original concept for Relay for Life was developed in the 1980s in Tacoma, Wash. by Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon eager to raise funds for his local American Cancer Society and show support for his patients battling cancer.
Ultimately, Klatt decided to raise the money doing something he truly loved — running marathons.
In May of 1985, Klatt circled the track of Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma for an impressive 24 hours, covering over 83 miles. Patients, friends, and family all watched as he circled the track, donating $25 to run or walk with Klatt for 30 minutes.
In 24 hours, Klatt raised a total of $27,000 to donate to the American Cancer Society, and thus was the beginning of the global phenomenon known as Relay for Life. Each year, this event involves over 3.5 million people in 5,000 communities and 20 other countries beyond the U.S.
This year’s ISU Relay for Life will be held on April 27, beginning at 6 p.m. on the ISU quad and ending the following morning around 8 a.m.
With this year marking the 10th anniversary of Relay for Life at ISU, Natalie Wetterauer, income development representative for the Illinois division of the American Cancer Society, said this year’s Relay will be themed, “Relay Like It’s 2002.”
“Our hope is to inspire people to think back to why ISU first took a stance in the fight against cancer 10 years ago, and why this campus is still fighting back hard against cancer,” she said.
In addition to taking a look back on Relay’s impact on ISU’s campus, the Relay committee has also included a strong focus on an activity called “Why I Relay,” an opportunity for those involved to state why they decided to participate, and who they relay for.
“I relay so that all granddaughters can learn how to bake cookies with their grandmas,” Wetterauer said. “My grandma is a 14-year [cancer] survivor who would not be here if not for amazing organizations like the American Cancer Society, their research and the services they provide,” she added.
Last year, ISU Relay for Life raised just over $119,000 with nearly 1,200 participants, and this year’s goal is to raise $125,000 with over 1,250 participants. Kellie Gregory, senior music education major and Relay team leader for SAI, ISU’s all-women’s music fraternity, has been doing her part to raise money to fight the disease that never sleeps. As an avid Relay for Life participant, Gregory said she finds an unspoken motivation in knowing there are still solutions for cancer that are yet to be discovered.
“[Cancer] never goes away … it’s something that affects so many people … and treatment is still brutal,” she said. “It’s really eye-opening to see how many people are affected by all different types of [cancer] … it’s a much bigger audience than just the people with the illness themselves, and unfortunately they haven’t figured out how to make it go away yet,” she added.
Through a wide variety of fundraisers from passing around milk jugs in lecture halls to collecting change, to administering a cupcake eating contest in Cook Hall, Gregory and the women of SAI, along with the many other fraternities and sororities involved with ISU’s Relay for Life, are dedicated to fighting a disease that directly affects many students on this campus alone.
The fact that many ISU students are either suffering from cancer or are related to someone who is, provides yet another harsh realization that keeps Gregory committed to her role as a fundraiser, relay team captain, and as a fellow Redbird.
“For me, cancer is not something that is in my family, but it makes [cancer] a lot more realistic to know that people our age, people that we know, are affected by it,” Gregory said. “It really can happen out of nowhere, and it can happen to anybody.”
Thankfully, Gregory added, there is no shortage of those willing to come together and donate both their money and time for the sake of those most impacted by cancer.
“The American Cancer Society is something that is also going to be pertinent, and people are always open to doing whatever they can to help,” she said.