Racing against cancer: Relay for Life

Sarah McKelvy, Staff Reporter

The lights of Monroe Stadium illuminate the field, revealing a lively scene of high schoolers playing around and walking laps on the track. Music is playing loudly over the speakers and fun activities such as face painting and chess are underway. Relay for Life has begun.

“Relay for Life is an organization intended to raise money and bring awareness to people fighting cancer and the families of people with cancer,” sophomore Elizabeth Jackson said. “It’s an accepting place where we hold an event to honor and acknowledge those who have fought and are fighting cancer.”

This event is hosted every year to commemorate those affected by cancer. Several teams are formed based off of organizations at the school like Band, Pals, Legacies and more. At least one member of each team is required to walk laps on the track the whole time. Being on the team also opens up opportunities to be on different committees for the event. 

“I am a lead which means I’ve done a lot of planning to help with this event and making sure everything runs smoothly,” said junior Bhavya Sinha. “We also have other committees like Luminaria who make luminaria for survivors.”

Besides being on a team with peers, there are other evens such as face painting, silent disco, ball games and Roberto Fernandez’s dance performance. Fernandez had a group of dancers together to perform alongside him at the stadium.

“I always enjoy being a part of Roberto’s performances and I’ve never attended relay for life until this year,”  one of Roberto’s dancers Ava James said. “I was very excited to be a part of the relay and provide entertainment for all the amazing people who chose to participate.”

One of the most important parts of Relay for Life is honoring those who battle cancer. They even accomplish this by having traditions to ensure that those who fought cancer are still honored throughout the night. One of these traditions is the luminaria ceremony. The luminaria ceremony is a time during the event when the lights of the stadium are shut off and all the students, staff, volunteers and guests gather in the center of the field around a cancer symbol made of luminaria. There is a moment of silence as people take time to light up their bags and remember those who they lost.

“Luminaria are these bags that we use to honor those who we lost to cancer,” Sinha said. “Each person can decorate a bag in memory of someone and when we have our ceremony we’ll celebrate everyone that we lost to cancer with our luminaria.”

Relay for Life inspires people in different ways, but it is an event that people remember for the rest of their lives.

“Relay for life inspires me because it allows me to see that there’s such big support for the cancer community,” Jackson said. “There are so many people here that are willing to dedicate their time to this event to the survivors who are either with us or not today.”