The fourteenth annual Relay for Life took place on the Merced College campus on Saturday, April 28, and lasted until the following Sunday. The event “helps communities across the globe celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease.”
This year there were about 1,500 participants in the relay, comprising at least 90 teams. The number of participants and amount of funds raised increases every year. Each participant was expected to raise at least $100, though some individuals raised much more. An 80 year old cancer survivor, Virginia Kong, raised over $11,000.
UC Merced student Darrel Justo was one of the speakers at the Relay for Life who shared his own personal story. Justo was able to overcome leukemia after three years of undergoing chemotherapy, and he now aspires to help others by becoming a pediatric oncologist. He helped form four UC Merced teams for the relay, one team being Bobcats Fight Cancer. Justo has also established a new Colleges Against Cancer chapter on campus.
The four main objectives of the chapter are cancer education, advocacy, survivorship and the Relay for Life. With regard to advocacy, members of the organization are raising awareness of Proposition 29, which is the California Cancer Research Act. If passed, Prop 29 will increase the price of cigarettes by $1 per pack to fund cancer research every year.
The annual Relay for Life is a widely popular event which aims to increase support for cancer patients. During the event, people participated in the relay, activities and raising money. UCM students were asked their thoughts about the fourteenth annual Relay for Life and how they think the event helps the community overall.
“I believe Relay for Life is a great source for outreaching to our communities regarding this terminal disease, because it gives people a great insight about the battle of these patients, as well as their families and friends,” said senior Alejandra Aguilar. “[Relay for Life] also creates hope thanks to the funding that helps the continuation of cancer research.” In addition, Aguilar mentioned she has seen the struggle people go through to win the battle against cancer.
Student Marisol Chavez said she believes it’s a great annual event that everyone should be aware of and should participate in to help and support each other. Chavez thinks it’s an important event because it helps unite the community and the university.
The Relay for Life brings families and friends together to support each other in the fight against cancer. All students are encouraged to take part in the next annual relay and raise awareness for cancer research.