By Emily Hostetler
Colleges Against Cancer (CAC) will unite the campus to walk for a cure through the Relay for Life program.
On March 22, teams of students, faculty and staff will gather in the Gordon Field House, where at least one person from each team will be walking laps for 18 hours.
Junior Jessica Martin, president of CAC, said the organization has been planning Relay for Life since September.
“This event means creating more birthdays,” she said. “It’s a really powerful event to show people the small part of the journey a cancer patient would go through.”
This year, the theme for the event is “holidays,” and each team has to pick a holiday to plan fundraising events around.
“We thought holidays would be fun because people can have fun with it,” Martin said. “We are planning an Easter egg hunt, caroling and a Halloween dress up contest at the event.”
Martin also said one of her favorite parts about the event is the annual cross-dressing contest.
“We always have a cross-dressing contest with (professional) drag queens and all the contestants are encouraged to cross dress and have a pageant,” she said.
While there are many events to keep students awake and active during the event, there will also be a Luminaire ceremony, at which candles are lit, and memorials for Jeffrey Thongsawath ’10, who recently died from pancreatic cancer.
Junior Jija Dutt, team development recruitment chair for CAC, said she is really happy with how the year of planning the event has gone so far.
“I am most looking forward to everyone coming together,” she said. “We have all the fun stuff and ceremonies like the Luminaire to honor people who have lost their lives and are battling cancer and take moments to be thankful.”
Meghan Feran ’06, American Cancer Society staff partner to the Relay For Life of OWU, said there are 23 teams signed up to date—the most OWU has ever had—with over $6,000 raised for the cause.
“Seeing collegiate committees collaborate and pull together such a life-saving event out of selflessness and passion to the cause in the fight against cancer is simply amazing,” she said. “The committee is small but mighty and doing a phenomenal job.”
CAC is a national organization committed to implementing programs in colleges aimed at eliminating cancer.
The organization is a main sponsor of Relay for Life and holds events such as the Great American Smokeout to encourage people to stop smoking and focuses on raising awareness about all cancer types.
“Freshman year I lost my mom to Leukemia,” Dutt said. “I had to fly back home to India… I came back all charged up and ready to be involved. While we are still here and still have time to do something about it (cancer) we should.”
Dutt said cancer can be unpredictable, which is one of the scariest things about it.
“Something like cancer should be important to everyone,” she said. “It affects people in more ways than one. You never know who is going to be touched by it.”
Martin said she joined CAC because her mom survived Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia as a child and because of that she has always been really passionate about cancer.
“I’ve seen the effects of cancer and I really believe that if dedicate ourselves to research, we will find a cure,” Martin said.