Relay for Life, organized by the Zags Against Cancer, raised over $23,000 last Saturday for the American Cancer Society (ACS).
From kittens to cotton candy, the event brought light to campus on an otherwise cloudy day. With over 20 teams, the total number of participants added up to about 400 according to junior Jordan Juranek, president of Zags Against Cancer.
Last year's Relay raised $31,261.26, but Juranek is happy with the turnout.
"Last year we had a really big outside donation that came in on the last day, so we are really happy with the number this year,” Juranek said. “Especially with it being cold and the weather kind of icky, we are really happy with it."
Juranek made a few changes to this year's event to make it more enjoyable and available for students. For instance, she chose to host the event on Foley Lawn rather than the Herak Quad like last year so that the event, "felt more intimate." Additionally, the event took place from 2-8 p.m. in the evening, with hopes that the weather would be nicest then.
Juranek will work to improve the event next year, continuing her leadership role with co-president Molly Morrisroe.
The event included not only Gonzaga students but participants from Eastern Washington University, Washington State University and the Eastern Health Sciences campus. From Gonzaga and Eastern, multiple fraternities and sororities came.
"It's hard because even though the event is open to everybody, it seems like it's all fraternities and sororities," Juranek says. "But they raise a lot of money and have a ton of participants; they are almost all Gonzaga students, too. It's a good way to get people to come out and stay for the whole day ‘cause they're hanging out with all their friends."
The Higher Ground Animal Sanctuary brought several adoptable kittens, ducklings, goslings, goats and a pig. According to owner Cheri Scandals, two kittens were adopted, and many community members were educated on the importance of caring for and spaying adopted pets during the relay.
Immediately after the opening ceremony, survivors and caregivers took a lap around the track. For several hours after, participants enjoyed a volleyball tournament, a performance by GUTS, the animal sanctuary and free pizza.
Around 6 p.m., participants gathered for the Luminaria Ceremony. Placing them along the track's outline, each light represents a life touched by cancer, whether it's for a survivor, someone who passed away or someone continuing the fight.
"We say names of cancer survivors and those we have lost and share a poem. It’s a more somber part of the night to really realize why we are here, ‘cause yeah we are here to have fun altogether, but we are thinking about the survivors," Juranek said.
Gonzaga students interested in joining Zags Against Cancer should email Jordan Juranek at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on club meetings and events.
Of every dollar donated to the society, 75 cents is directed to ACS mission work. Some of the money is reserved for the mission programs previously mentioned, "but the top funding source of our donated money goes to research with the idea that that's going to have the greatest effect on our patients and make sure this disease doesn’t happen in the future,” Berlin says.
“In the future, I hope that we will be able to tell our kids and grandkids that we played a critical role in this international movement that ended cancer," Juranek said as the volunteers began their final lap around the track.
Lily Morehouse is a contributor.