Walking For a Cure
By: Allison Meads
At approximately 6:30 p.m, cancer survivors and caregivers began the Survivor Walk around the Bobcat Stadium track to begin the Relay for Life event at Frostburg State University. During this walk, survivors are acknowledged for their victory over cancer while being cheered on. As student coordinator, Brittney Friend, asked for the survivors to come to the front of the stage, people of all ages and even a few students, gathered in frontof the stage flashing bright purple strobe lights. While the survivors made their way to the front of the stage, Friend reminded people that although the teams altogether had raised $50,000 already, their fundraising goal this year is $60,000 and to donate and walk for the cause. As the survivors emerged from the crowd and gathered on the track, the crowd lined along the field cheered wildly.
The survivors of all ages unrolled the Survivors 2013 banner and greeted one another as they exchanged smiles while doing so. When the banner was completely unrolled, each survivor held part of the banner as Friend announced that Relay for Life begins after the survivors complete the first lap around the track. As the survivors began to walk, the crowd followed them around from the sidelines and cheered them on, screaming “good job,” and “keep going!”
After the survivors crossed the starting line again, the crowd that had been cheering from the sidelines joined them on the track. Relay for Life 2013 at Frostburg State University had begun.
Relay for Life is an organized, overnight community fundraising walk for cancer where teams of people camp out around a track. Members of each team take turns walking around the track. Food, games and activities provide entertainment for both members of the teams and those individual participants who are not required to stay the entire time. However, the cause is so big and there is so much going on, that some individual participants stay the majority if not the whole time.
For the past week, students have been advocating Relay for Life with posters posted all throughout campus and in the Lane University Center (LUC) setting up tables and asking people to donate to The American Cancer Society to help find a cure. This year’s fundraising goal was $60,000. The tables were always easy to spot as the table was always covered in purple items; purple being the color to represent all cancers and also the color choice for Relay for Life. In exchange for their donation, a donor could have a trinket from the table such as a Relay for Life pencil, cup, or bag. Next to all the donation buckets and trinkets was what looked like a life size cupcake post it and a small footprint post it. On it was a line where donors could write down the name of someone they knew who was affected by cancer. Their post it would be placed on the wall closest to the main stair case in the LUC for everyone to see.
By Friday, April 26, everyone was ready for or at least aware of Relay for Life. There were so many people gathered at the Bobcat Stadium. “I’m here because I want to walk for my mom and dad who are both survivors of cancer,” says senior Jason Baccus who had taken a short break from walking. Students from all different organizations were either set up already or still in the process of setting up their tables. There were a lot of Greek life organizations there as well, such as the Delta Zeta women and the Kappa fraternity men. All the people from organizations were wearing shirts either with the name of their organization or the letters from the sorority or fraternity they were a member of. Each table usually had some sort of incentive for a donation. In the Iota fraternity area, they offered a ride on a mechanical bull in exchange for a donation. A few tents and tables away, the Frostburg Coalition and C.H.I.L.L (Creating Healthy Informed Lasting Lifestyles) initiative table offered donors the opportunity to win a large box of assorted candy. It seemed as if each table offered something different.
Students were not the only participants. The local townspeople had come out to support the cause as well. They came with their parents or children and friends to walk and donate. They too engaged with the students and activities going on.
On the field, some participants played soccer, while others played Frisbee or just lounged around. “I just want to show my support. This is a good event and I some of my family members were affected by cancer,” Jocelyn Spriggins states as she continues to walk. As time went on, you could tell the temperature had dropped because suddenly everyone had put on their sweatshirts, jackets and grabbed blankets and hats. But a little brisk weather wasn't going to stop this cause. It seems as though Relay for Life falls on a cold day every year. Perhaps it’s because Relay for Life event is from 6 p.m to 6 a.m. As the evening progressed, more people came and the Bobcat Stadium was full of people.
People were everywhere: on the track, on the field, on the sidelines and in their tents or at their tables. With so much hustle and bustle, there’s no way that the Frostburg’s fundraising goal of $60,000 couldn't be met by 6.a.m Saturday morning. When it seemed as if the darkness had finally started to settle in, around 9 p.m, the Luminaria Ceremony had begun. During this ceremony those people who were lost during their fight against cancer and for those who are currently fighting are honored.
Candles are lit inside of personalized bags and are placed around the Relay track as glowing tributes to those who have been affected by cancer. On the new bleachers of the Bobcat Stadium were some of these luminaries. In the darkness they glowed and demanded the attention of anyone on the field. Together the luminaria bags spelled out ‘HOPE.’
The next day, it was announced that not only did Frostburg meet their fundraising goal, but they had actually exceeded it. By 6 a.m Saturday morning, 54 teams and 827 participants had raised $61,545.83. Frostburg did it. After all that walking and fundraising, Frostburg deserves some well earned sleep.