Hundreds of Ohio State students endured an “all-nighter” last weekend, but this time they weren’t the victims of test anxiety.
The seventh-annual Relay For Life OSU kicked off Saturday at noon. Located at Lincoln Tower Park, the 24-hour event had games, a live DJ and sales of food and souvenirs to promote the event.
OSU raised funds for the cause prior to the event via the organization’s main website, relayforlife.org. OSU’s chapter of Relay For Life announced at the event that about $115,000 was raised; $13,000 was raised during the event itself and 109 student teams raised the remaining $102,000 prior to the event. All proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society.
The opening ceremony began at noon and included testimonies from students of OSU’s chapter of Relay For Life. They read quotes from famous philosophers or mentioned close relatives who influenced their participation in the event.
Dr. Amanda Toland, of OSU’s Medical Center, talked about the prevalence of cancer. She said colon cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer.
Toland said 700,000 cases of melanoma, or skin cancer, were diagnosed in 2010. She advised the audience to do their part to protect themselves by getting screening tests for all types of cancer and wearing sunscreen.
“We all know the dangers of lung cancer: 90 percent of smokers develop cancer, so nine-tenths of lung cancer is caused by smoking,” Toland said. “But flip that around, and just 10 percent of smokers are susceptible to lung cancer. We want to figure out why that is, and this is just one example of why you are here today: to help us continue our research.”
She said she was motivated to begin her practice at a young age, after losing her 13-year-old cousin to cancer.
The event began with a ceremonial ‘Opening Victory Lap’ around the track that cancer survivors and their families led.
At sunset all attendees were given glow sticks to put in paper bags that lined the track for the Luminaria Ceremony. They labeled their bags with names of loved ones who lost their lives to cancer and then walked a ‘Rememberance Lap’ in unison.
During this, students read a poem about hope being the ‘last thing ever lost.’
Matt Stoltzfus, a chemistry professor at OSU, said 2.5 billion people worldwide — including one in two men, and one in three women — are told they have cancer annually and during the 24-hour Relay For Life, 22,000 people are diagnosed.
Stoltzfus said $13 billion are spent worldwide and $4 billion are spent in the United States annually to prevent this epidemic.
“We need to come together with one goal: finding a cure,” he said. “If not us, who? If not now, when?”
IX Webhosting, a Columbus-based website service and a sponsor of the event, held a booth and sold t-shirts to promote its website and the event.
Mel Vidal, personal assistant for IX Webhosting, said 100 percent of the proceeds will benefit Relay For Life.
“I’m thrilled with the turnout,” Vidal said. “And this hits home for me. My mom had breast cancer, and her sister died from it. I had an uncle that died from bone marrow cancer.”
Games such as volleyball and cornhole continued throughout Saturday afternoon. Pie-eating contests kept participants active throughout the night.
As the clock struck midnight a dance contest among seven male students dressed as females brought some laughs.
“It was hot and sexy. I really like to shake my hips, so it was fun,” said Anthony Deppen, a first-year in food business management and contest participant.
Sarah Slowter, a second-year in food business management, kept a tally for the 120 laps she walked around the track to signify the days since her dad was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. She said he is still undergoing treatment with the hopes of being completely cured.
“This is very tiring,” Slowter said. “But when you think about it, this is nothing compared to what a cancer patient goes though. So this is a cool experience.”