Walking a Day for Relay for Life

By Charles Lam
Staff Writer

Music, chatter and light bounced off the hills of Aldrich Park Saturday night, as students circled the paths facing the School of Physical Sciences, near the infinity pool. For a full 24 hours, there was someone walking, raising money for the American Cancer Society during the annual Relay for Life. Many students didn’t leave the park, rather opting to stay in one of the tents that lined the inside of the ring and spending time with their friends.
In May of 1985, Dr. Gordy Klatt of Tacoma, Wash. walked alone around a track for 24 hours to raise money for his local American Cancer Society. As he ran, he thought of how he could get more people involved, how he could share the importance of cancer care with others. Now, 27 years after his original run, Relays for Life dot the United States. UC Irvine’s has become a fixture of campus life as dozens and dozens of clubs and organizations participate.
“This year has been a big success,” Adam Thursby, a fourth-year political science major, Online Relay Chair and cancer survivor, said. “We have a bigger turn out and much more fundraising this year than last year. We had online registration so we expected this but actually seeing everything is great.”
In addition to pledges and donations, organizations raised money by vending food and drinks during the event. Everything from Krispy Kreme donuts, spam musubi, $2 boba and hot chocolate could be found.
The highlight of the event was the Luminaria Ceremony, where participants lit lanterns in memory of those lost to cancer. The lanterns dotted the edges of the walking path and lit the way as the sun went down and darkness set in. It is one of the few events on campus that bring together the entire community.
“We have Shocktoberfest and Wayzgoose and now we sort of have Relay too,” Melissa Gamble, a second-year political science major and Relay co-chair, said. “It’s a unique events. There are tents everywhere, there’s a real sense of togetherness.”
As the night drew on, Relay for Life brought in two bright spotlights powered by a gas generator and held small events and competitions from “guess that tune” games to Monster Pong tournaments. To pass the time, students also brought an assortment of balls, board games and laptops. Throughout the day, pick up games of soccer, football and volleyball flared up and died down on the lawn, continuing well past midnight. Guitars were a common sight, with people playing and singing nearly every other tent.
Thursby, who spent his second year of college in chemotherapy fighting testicular cancer, summarized the sentiment of the event.
“It means a lot to me,” he said. “I used a lot of ACS services when I had cancer and seeing people come together and providing support like this. It just means a lot.”