Organizers of UNC’s Relay for Life said it’s not a one-night race — it’s the celebration of a year-long effort.
“It’s a 20-hour event to show that cancer never sleeps,” said Jessie Laney, UNC Relay for Life’s event chairwoman.
Attend Relay for Life
Time: 6 p.m. tonight
Location: Fetzer Field and
Tonight at 6 p.m., UNC’s Relay for Life will kick off with an opening speaker, UNC researcher Mike Foote, shortly followed by the survivor’s lap.
As of Thursday night, 1,800 people had signed up to walk around Belk Track and $144,000 had been raised for the American Cancer Society.
Co-chairwoman Haylea Hannah said this year’s fundraising goal is $220,000. Last year more than $200,000 was raised.
Games and entertainment take place throughout the night, including a “Miss Relay” all-male pageant contest that will be hosted by John Henson and cheerleader Kacey Barnes. Henson hosted the pageant in 2010.
Relay for Life provides the opportunity for students and community members to remember loved ones lost to cancer and celebrate those battling it. That remembrance is represented in a Luminaria Ceremony.
At about 9 p.m., all of the lights around the track and Eddie Smith Field House are turned off, leaving just the light of illuminated bags around the track.
The ceremony, which co-chairman Zachary Kirchin described as a very solemn and powerful moment, said it is, “usually a tear-jerker that reminds people what this is all about.”
“The UNC Relay team is a family here on campus,” Kirchin said. “These are the people that I spend all of my time with, working toward this goal of eradicating cancer.”
He said team members all have their own stories of how they’ve dealt with cancer in their lives, whether it was the loss of a family member, a good friend or they are battling it themselves.
Hannah said she lost her grandfather to brain and lung cancer in 2006, so when she came to UNC she found Relay for Life.
“It gave me a way to cope with my grandfather’s death and to fight back in any way I could,” she said.
Laney said she picked up her position with Relay for Life to give back to an association — the American Cancer Society — that gave so much to her.
“Every dollar makes a difference,” she said.
“It’s definitely doable. We have so much passion.”
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