Relay for life inspires survivors and caregivers alike

Port Washington community members join together to fight cancer

Eleni Christou, Contributing Writer

Relay for Life is a community-based event to be held on June 16 on the track of Schreiber High School.  More specifically, it is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society that aims to raise money for the many people suffering from cancer, as well as for the continuous, progressive research for a cure.

Last year, students gathered for the event on June 17.  Many different teams with unique titles were created by the participants of the event, and each team sought to raise money within their own group.  Many groups chose to stay overnight, symbolizing that cancer patients don’t ever stop fighting just because they are fatigued.  

“I think that Relay for Life is so powerful because it gives people the opportunity to fight alongside side cancer patients throughout the night,” said sophomore Casey Fanous. 

 For each year, as the event commences, the participants are usually welcomed with an opening ceremony, which introduces the event.  Soon after, the opening ceremony takes place, and the Survivor Lap begins.  This is when the survivors who are currently affected by cancer take their own walk around the track.

This lap specifically is a very uplifting event in Relay for Life because as they take their walk, patients are supported by the many participants watching.  The following lap around the track recognizes all those individuals, or caregivers, that have assisted and supported their loved ones during their cancer treatment.

“I believe that the first two laps of the event are very symbolic of the fact that the survivors aren’t alone in their fight, and that they have family and friends to support them throughout their journey,” said junior Megan DiLeo. 

 Once the survivors and caregivers take their laps around the track, the celebration begins.  Even after these two laps have concluded, participants from each team continue to walk around the track throughout the night to embody the continuous battle against cancer. 

While team members walk around the track, the other members visit different campsites and take part in different actives that advocate for the American Cancer Society.  These activities are used to increase awareness and raise money for cancer research.  

After the sun sets and the night hours approach, luminarias are lit to remember the lives that have been lost and to celebrate cancer survivors.  This occurs after sunset, as the darkness represents the despair and concern a patient feels when they have been diagnosed.  By lighting these luminarias, it is not only to honor those that have been lost, but to show those currently affected by this illness that they are not alone. 

“As a member of Relay for Life, my favorite event is the Luminaria ceremony.  Everyone is able to light a bag for someone they have lost or are giving support to, which really brings the community together,” said sophomore Isabella Tomaselli.

Throughout the rest of the night, the activities continue.  Some team members campout while the others continue around the track.

The closing ceremonies proceed as a way to bring the memorable night to a finish.  These closing ceremonies recognize all the hard, dedicated work that our community has done for the event.

They also reassure all the cancer patients participating that they are not alone in their fight and that all of the friends and family members surrounding them are giving them their support.

“I believe everyone is somehow affected by cancer.  By doing this event, it allows people to having a fun time fundraising, meanwhile spending the night with family and friends, and leaving people completely aware of this illness,” said sophomore Sara Braunshweiger. 

The event is eventually closed on a very high note, leaving every participant with an amazing experience and a reminder that the fight against cancer won’t stop until cancer is cured.