The Relay for Life is an annual event that benefits The American Cancer Society. This year’s local Relay for Life is a 15-hour overnight event. Participants create teams of runners and the goal for each team is to have at least one participant walking the track at all times. Each team has a “campsite” where they rest, cheer, and hold various fundraising efforts, including bake sales and games. This year’s theme is carnivals. Rollins’ Coordinator of Academic Administration Karla Knight, a team captain and member of the event committee, says, “We are asking teams to decorate their campsites in a carnival fashion and offer carnival games or food, etc. as their onsite fundraising.”
Some of the laps include “themes,” such as a lap run in pajamas. One highlight of these themed laps is the Mr. Relay contest, in which male participants dress up in drag to run their lap, collecting money in purses. These men also participate in a contest on stage. Whichever man collects the most money during his lap wins the title of “Mr. Relay.” Entertainment for the participants this year also includes a performance by the Rollins Improv players.
One of the main events of Relay for Life is the Luminaria Ceremony. Personalized paper sacks are weighted with sand and contain candles. These line the track, honoring those who passed away due to cancer. A lap is taken in total silence in remembrance of those who have died. Knight commented, “It’s probably the most moving part of Relay, and I never make it through without lots of tears.” Luminaria can be dedicated through the Relay for Life website.
The fundraiser happens in more than twenty countries and the money made from the Relay goes to The American Cancer Society. For every dollar the event makes, 72 cents goes straight to The American Cancer Society. The society is generally known for their cancer research. As Knight pointed out, “Today we all know that smoking causes lung cancer. It’s hard to believe, but we didn’t always know this. It was actually research funded by the American Cancer Society that discovered this link.”
The society also provides important services to patients, such as transportation to and from hospitals, and free lodging in “Hope Lodges” near hospitals for family members of patients. The fundraising goal of the Winter Park/Baldwin Park Relay is $38,000.
Registration for teams takes place on the Relay for Life website. Rollins students are encouraged to start or join a team. However, there are also other ways to help. The Relay needs volunteers to help with setting up and taking down the event, and there are also open positions on the Relay committee.
This year, the relay is a combined effort of Winter Park and Baldwin Park. Having only one relay saves on production costs and allows more money to be donated to The American Cancer Society and its cause. The Relay is scheduled for April 11-12, beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday and ending at 9 a.m. on Saturday, but team Campsites are usually set up around 4 p.m. on Friday. The Relay is being held at Glenridge Middle School in Baldwin Park.