One night each school year, teams full of students gather at the track to spend 8 hours playing games, lighting luminaria’s, and raising money in hopes of helping to cure cancer.
“I think it’s important that people are apart of something bigger than just themselves,” head director of VHS Relay for Life and teacher Mrs. Mulligan said. “Relay for Life gives students, staff and the community an opportunity to participate in something bigger than Vandegrift and bigger than our community because cancer is worldwide.”
Relay for Life is a signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Relay is staffed and coordinated by volunteers around the U.S. and is a chance for communities to recognise and celebrate those who have overcome cancer, are undergoing treatment, and the memory of loved ones lost to cancer.
“It was a great way to see how cancer impacted people in our community” sophomore and A.D. Relay Team member Noah Dennis said. “We are able to gain a personal perspective and gain interest in helping with the search for a cure and also have a good time with our friends.”
During the night, different events take place. Things such as an opening ceremony, walking of the track, lighting of the luminarias, games, and more all occur.
“At any given moment you could look anywhere on the field and see all the smiles,“ Mulligan said. “Whether it was old kids getting their face painted, pie eating contest or just hanging out in their enos, everybody was smiling.”
One of the most popular parts of the night is the lighting of the luminarias ceremony. Luminarias are lanterns bought by the students that can have a note written on them to a loved one who has dealt or did deal with cancer.
“The Luminaria ceremony impacted me a ton this year, ”junior Vincent Zambito said. “One of my good friends Carson Broe always delivers such a great speech during the ceremony.”
The event lasts until two o’clock in the morning, but by then, the majority of the students had gone home. Those that stayed completed one last event of the night, walking the track one last time.
“At two o’clock when some of the kids really made it to the end, we just huddle up in our small group and just thank them for being there, then we run one more lap.”