For senior Patrick Struble, walking around the campus has never had a lot of meaning. It was just a labored way to get to class, the library or anywhere else he needed to go. Now, though, walking around campus is taking on a different meaning.
As the coordinator of the University’s first Relay for Life event, Struble says the steps he takes on campus on April 4 will do a lot more than get him from place to place. They will make money, offer hope to others and give him a chance to become introspective about his own life—to see where he was six years ago and where he is today.
Six years ago, Struble was diagnosed with a brain tumor. For more than a year, he underwent treatments and suffered through all of the nausea and pain that go along with them. But he made it. And now, as a survivor, he wants to measure his past steps with his current steps. That’s why he established the University’s Relay for Life event and is campaigning to earn more than $25,000 for the American Cancer Society.
The relay launches at 6:00 p.m. on the residential mall in front of the Gallagher Student Center and continues for the next 18 hours. Local bands are performing, newscaster Michael Flannery from Channel 9 is serving as master of ceremonies and various activities are scheduled to fill the night as participants are walking laps around a predetermined course. From midnight to 5:00 a.m., theme laps take place in which participants dress in pajamas, super hero costumes or some other theme. A male beauty queen contest is also scheduled.
Cancer survivors, including Struble and other University students, are taking the first lap together, symbolizing the courage survivors and their families display and sustain in their lives. Everyone stops walking at 9:00 p.m. for a brief luminary ceremony to remember, honor and celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer.
Relay for Life is a national American Cancer Society fundraiser, which celebrates survivorship and recognizes lost love ones. The relay is designed to raise money for research and programming. Teams are formed and members take turns walking or running laps. Each team tries to keep at least one team member on the track at all times.
Gordy Klatt, colorectal surgeon and avid runner, began the event in 1985 after running 85 miles in 24 hour to raise $27,000 for the society. Eighteen years later, the event is still running in various cities around the nation aiding in the funding of research and programming for cancer survivors and patients.
To the American Cancer Society, the event represents the hope that those lost to cancer will never be forgotten, that those who face cancer will be supported and that one day, cancer will be eliminated.
Which is why Struble distinguishes this event from other charitable events.
“It is a cause that effects everyone whether friends, family or even yourself.”