Relay For Life raises money for cancer

Students, faculty and members of the community came together for a 12-hour event in the Darwin Quad this weekend. 

Relay For Life is a worldwide event where teams walk for the fight against cancer. It began in 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt walked for 24 hours around a track in Washington. The following year, 340 supporters joined him. Since then the event has spread and raised over $5 billion for the American Cancer Society.

Seven years ago, students in the Colleges Against Cancer club brought Relay For Life to Sonoma State University. This year the event was lead by senior Cheyenne Stevens and junior Katie Pampuch. Also assisting with the event was Ashlyn Tamayo, a graduate from Sacramento State University who works with the American Cancer Society. Pampuch said they started planning back in August. She said they had to reserve the quad well in advance and work around other organization’s schedules in order for them to be able to participate in the event.

 “My favorite part about relay for life is the Luminaria Ceremony,” said Pampuch. “Everyone takes a silent lap in order to honor those who are still fighting, or have unfortunately lost their battle against cancer.” 

Bags are decorated throughout the event and during the ceremony they are filled with candles and then placed along the path to provide light. Pampuch has been participating in Relay For Life since she was seven years old. 

“Relay for life is special to me because I am a cancer survivor. I beat Leukemia,” Pampuch said.

 Cancer survivors participating in the event could be spotted wearing purple shirts. Those in white shirts were part of the Hope club, which consisted of people who donated $100 or more to the event.

This year’s goal was $11,000. By 3 p.m. they had reached $8,000 and by hour 12 they had hit $10,891.79. 

On Sunday, Lobo’s held a “dine and donate” event where all of the money made from sales goes to Relay For Life. They are still counting the final total, but it looks like they will meet their goal.

Lining the path of the quad, teams had booths set up with games and information about the cancer or group they were honoring. The Student Health Advisory Committee and Pre-Health Professions club chose lung cancer as their focus. 

“We chose lung cancer because we really helped push the ‘Tobacco Free Campus’,” said club president and senior Megan Humphrey.  

Another vibrant booth was the Nursing club’s. 

“We are supporting ovarian cancer and our slogan is ‘Not All Cancer is Pink,’ because breast cancer usually gets the most attention,” said junior nuring major Else Stuart. 

Their booth even had an egg race participants could play.

Love Your Melon, also had a booth at the event, is a national apparel brand for children with cancer that was recently brought to Sonoma State. 

“Half of the money from a purchase goes towards making more apparel to sell, while the other half goes to hospitals for research, as well as for assisting families with children who have cancer and making them more comfortable,” said sophomore Love Your Melon member Casey Elbert. 

Love Your Melon also does something called “Superhero visits.” 

“They go to hospitals and hangout with some of the kids and try to make them feel special,” Elbert said.

Throughout the long event, there were various forms of entertainment for the walkers. A Zumba class got particpates moving and a performance by the Sapphires brought more energy to the event. 

“Charity brings out the sunlight on a rainy day,” said freshman and Alpha Psi pledge Ryan Somera who was walking with the Alpha Psi team.

Students interested in getting involved with Relay For Life next year, contact Katie Pampuch at pampuch@sonoma.edu.