Nearly 1,000 students, teachers, and community members packed into the Charles E. Smith Center Friday for the George Washington University’s annual Relay For Life. Hundreds of the dedicated participants walked the entire 12-hours to celebrate those who have survived cancer as well as those who lost their battle.
GW’s Relay For Life is hosted by the Program Board and students from 61 student organizations participated in this 12-hour event that raises money for the American Cancer Society. If not actively walking the track, participants joined together for a variety of events on the gym floor.
Events included face painting, scavenger hunts, guest lectures, and much more in a tightly packed overnight schedule. Students also enjoyed Crepeaway and performances by the GW Pitches, GW Vibes, and GW Bhangra.
Junior Rachael Mèndez is the sponsorship chair for the Relay for Life GW team and has been participating in Relay events since her freshman year of high school. “Each year I have more and more people to relay for,” said Mèndez.
During the event, walkers partake in the Luminaria Ceremony, which is targeted towards remembering those who lost their lives to cancer and celebrating those who survived.
“The Luminaria ceremony was really special,” said sophomore Julie Kamath. “The three generations before my mom passed away from cancer and my mom had a cancer scare this past year so it really hit home for me.”
GW student Rob Todaro was one of the guest speakers during the event. After learning he had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma last May, Todaro remained positive and started to live the life he wanted. He began working out more and doing things he enjoyed until chemotherapy took a toll. Standing before the crowded Smith Center, Todaro is a proud cancer survivor.
While some students pull this all-nighter with their friends to raise money and have a good time, the event runs deeper for many others.
Junior Caden Otunu relays for her grandparents, who battled cancer when she was young. “I relay to show that I will always be thinking about them,” said Otunu.
The Relay for Life team has raise close to $40,000 so far, but their efforts are not finished yet. Mèndez said to expect further fundraisers before the school year is finished.
Relay raises money for all different types of cancer through the American Cancer Society, an organization that has been working for years to find a cure. “I hope one day we’ll find it and then we won’t need to relay anymore,” said Mèndez.