Fighting cancer one lap at a time: Relay for Life

Fighting cancer one lap at a time: Relay for Life

Monroe Stadium was illuminated with lights and bustling with activity on the night of April 12th as students, faculty and community members gathered for the annual Relay for Life event. From 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., participants gathered during an eight-hour journey filled with live music, student performances, food, games, club booths and raffles, all in support of the fight against cancer.

“When I was in middle school I lost my best friend, Dunnovan Healy, to leukemia, which was devastating,” Logistics Team Lead Leya Bustami said. “It was such a difficult time in my life and I knew once I learned about Relay [for Life] that I wanted to channel my hurt into an effort that could possibly help others who are experiencing the horrific impacts of cancer. If we can make others aware of how much cancer affects people they are close to in their community, I think we are achieving our goal beyond just raising funds.”

Relay for Life serves as a significant platform for communities to come together in the fight against cancer. Beyond the lively activities and recreation, participants engage in more solemn moments: walking laps around the track, sharing personal stories and fundraising. These efforts are all aimed at raising awareness and support for cancer research, treatment, and prevention.

“For me, I became involved without fully understanding what Relay was,” Student Council Executive President Rebecca Tang said. “I was honestly just looking for ways to grow my leadership experience. I chose to join the Luminaria Committee, and during that process, I had the honor of hearing individuals share about how cancer impacted them. It was so cool seeing the Luminaria bags lit up across the field as people reflected on their personal lives, and since each bag stood for someone impacted by cancer, it made the moment all the more special.”

Behind the scenes, the effort and dedication poured into making Relay for Life a success is nothing short of remarkable. The planning process is meticulously organized, with dedicated committees overseeing every aspect of the event. Bustami herself has been an integral part of the logistics team for the past two years, ensuring that everything runs smoothly on the day of the event.

We wanted to provide a platform to honor loved ones and celebrate survivors,” Bustami said. “Each committee has a different process for selecting speakers, but we really try to reach out to anyone willing to share their experiences, always considering how difficult it may be for them to do so. This year, we had the opportunity to hear from oncologist Dr. Unnikrishnan, freshman Chelsea Oatman and parent Kirsten Caldwell.”

As the clock neared 2 a.m., the stadium lights began to dim, but the sense of unity and purpose remained strong. This event not only raised crucial funds for cancer research and support services but also inspired hope for a future free from cancer. It provided an opportunity for people to unite around a common cause, growing a sense of community and shared purpose.

“By attending and showing support, we are able to take a position against cancer,” faculty sponsor Tyler Lewis said. “I’m already excited about next year’s Relay for Life. We have so many ideas to make it bigger and better. But at its core, it will always be about coming together as a community to fight for a world without cancer. And I have no doubt that with the continued support of our amazing community, we will get there.”

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About the Contributor
Marley Page
Marley Page, Staff Reporter
Marley Page is a senior and is thrilled to serve her first year on staff. Apart fr0m newspaper, she is involved with Operation Smile, NHS, and Yearbook at Vandegrift. In her free time, she enjoys going to concerts, spending time with her friends, and volunteering at Ten Thousand Villages of Austin.

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