By Sarah Jane Sheehan, Transcript Correspondent
Gordon Field House was filled with OWU students and faculty, community members and most importantly, cancer survivors Friday at 6 p.m. for the university’s annual Relay for Life.
The event began with opening services that honored sophomore Jake Von Der Vellen, who had been the committee chair. Senior Alexis Plaga, president of Colleges Against Cancer at OWU, and other Relay members recalled their memories with Von Der Vellen and dedicated the event to him.
After the opening speech, the first walk began. Survivors and Von Der Vellen’s family walked around the track as everyone else in the arena cheered. After the first lap, caretakers joined. The last lap was the team lap and the start of the continuous walking. During the event, the rules are that at least one team member must be walking at all times.
Teams were made of fraternity, sorority, sport, club and community members. Each team had a booth with food, games and other activities for fund raising as well as information about the type of cancer they chose to promote awareness about. Friends and more members of the teams came and went throughout the night to show support and walk a couple of laps.
All money raised will be going to Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society, according to Plaga.
Freshman Ashley Truxell said this was her first relay and she was very excited, considering her past experiences with similar events.
“They used to have a weekend event in my town and I always wanted to do it,” Truxell said.
Music played throughout the event as those gathered sang and played games.
The Luminary ceremony, held later in the night was a part of the event to walk to celebrate the lives of those lost. The lights in the field house were turned off as senior Solomon Ryan spoke about the ceremony and what each luminary represented: the life of someone lost to cancer. Luminaries lined the track as all the participants took a lap of silence to honor lost loved ones. Relayers could buy luminaries and dedicate them to someone they had known.
Games and activities were planned throughout the night to keep participants awake and engaged. The Mr. and Mrs. Relay competition had Relayers from each team dress up and collect money. Sophomore Sean Anthony won the Drag Race that was held. Zumba, three-legged races and a rap competition were just some of the other activities.
By 1 a.m. many teams had set up their beds for the night. There were air mattresses, tents and sleeping bags at every team’s station. However, some Relayers continued walking throughout the night. The event went to about 10:30 the next morning.
This year’s Relay for Life raised around $16,000 and every team helped contribute to this sum.
Plaga is hoping to raise more money to donate to the American Cancer Society. Overall, she thought the event was a success.