Relay for Life to raise funds, awareness for American Cancer Society


By Leo Garkisch, copy editor
Beginning at 6 p.m. on May 13, Jean Walker fieldhouse will be host to an estimated 300 students and community members participating in the overnight annual Relay for Life program, which raises funds for the American Cancer Society.
The all-night event keeps participants engaged in various activities until it ends 12 hours later at 6 a.m. By then, the fieldhouse will have been host to everything from frozen t-shirt competitions, in which teams of participants compete to pull apart two frozen t-shirts, to a performance by Guitar Club, which is led by cancer survivor and school psychologist Jay Kyp-Johnson.
“Cancer doesn’t sleep,” Michelle Tantillo, service learning coordinator, said. “People who have cancer — I mean — it’s affecting them all the time. We’re not going to sleep. The idea is that we’re going to stay up, raise money, raise awareness about the cause and celebrate those who are survivors and those who we have lost.”
To stay overnight, all students or community members need to do is get a waiver (provided on-site or online) signed by a parent or guardian and fundraise a minimum of $100 for the American Cancer Society. Tantillo estimates that donations will total roughly $30,000, much of which will be spent on local programs devoted to cancer research, cancer treatment, making wigs for cancer patients who have lost their hair and providing rides to chemotherapy treatment.
Also contributing to these causes will be the money earned via raffles and silent auctions, which will feature prizes like Cubs tickets, Prospect apparel and a Prospect parking pass.
Participants may sign up in fundraising teams that compete to raise the most money. Teams can also work together in competitions with prizes like t-shirts and gift cards. So far, 18 have officially registered, and more are expected to do so come this evening.
Teams can be as small as just a group of friends or even as big as the entire freshman class. Also, various sports teams are signed up to take part in the event. Tantillo said that students who don’t have a team will still be able to participate because they can sign up for The Underground’s team.
Every hour throughout the night will have something different in store, including special laps around the track dedicated to cancer patients’ caregivers and cancer survivors, a midnight movie, several band performances and team competitions.
Around 9:30 p.m., the evening will turn more somber when the focus will turn to people lost to cancer and those fighting who weren’t able to make it to the event. All the lights go out, and participants light decorated luminaires that can be bought for $10. They may write the name of a loved one affected by cancer, and those names will be read while the decorated luminaries glow in the darkness.
“It’s a very touching ceremony,” Tantillo said. “It’s a very powerful part of Relay.”
For students interested in joining this evening’s event, registration is available here.