FRIDAY, MARCH 06
The campus of Oklahoma City University will be a host site for the annual Relay For Life April 3-4.
The overnight walkathon is held at several locations throughout the country to raise money for cancer-fighting efforts under the banner of the American Cancer Society.
Organizers at the university are lining up entertainment, side activities, multiple fundraising ideas and other logistical details as the relay draws near. The event has become a model of organization with a committee of more than 20 people, made up mostly of students, divvied up in a variety of responsibilities.
Ruth Cole, a co-chair for the event at OCU, has been involved in organizing the relays since her freshman year, which is all three years it has been on campus. Cole said she hopes for a turnout of at least 35 teams with an already-committed list nearing that target.
“We’ll take as many as we can get,” Cole said. “The more tents we see around campus, the better.”
Maria Perez is in charge of recruiting teams. Perez said the committee is quickly finding willing participants.
“We are very excited because even though these aren’t the best of economic times, people are still willing to donate and come together for a common cause,” she said.
While some event details are still being worked out — obtaining a stage floor that would be usable by the Ann Lacy School of American Dance, for example — Cole said most of the goals seem to be falling into place.
“It’s a long event, or more like a large conglomeration of events. We’ll have ceremonies throughout the night highlighting the three main aspects of Relay For Life: Celebrating the lives of those who have survived cancer, remembering those who have lost to the disease and the importance of getting everyone to fight back and take an active stance against cancer,” she said.
Under the Relay For Life format, teams of eight to 10 members walk around a designated path for a varying length of time depending on the event, some for as long as 24 hours. Members of each team take turns walking, giving their teammates a chance to participate in other activities or get some rest. The OCU event will be 12 hours long beginning at 7 p.m. April 3.
The continuous walk around the circle is symbolically called the “Cycle of Cancer.” And if participants are feeling a bit tired the next morning, Cole said that’s part of the overall lesson.
“It’s meant to symbolize the struggles of cancer victims. Relay For Life participants typically begin the event full of adrenaline. But after a while it wears off and they start to feel worn out,” she said. “It’s like with chemotherapy patients. They feel worn out during treatment, but you hope that eventually they’ll overcome it.”
The “Luminary,” a candlelight vigil, is held at a designated time at all Relay For Life events.
Various performances will be held in the center of the walking path late into the night, keeping the spirits high for those participating.
Each team comes up with their own way to raise money. For example, a sorority on campus has decided to clean the dorm rooms of their fellow students for a nominal fee.
At the end of the relay, all money raised is collected and the results are announced.
Cole called the Relay For Life one of the biggest events on campus each year, and said she’s happy to be part of it.
“It’s a very worthy cause. OCU is a service-leader university, and this event is the perfect example of that philosophy,” she said.