The Daily Gamecock

More than $90k raised at 10th annual Relay for Life

2011 fundraising total topped before Friday event



More than 2,000 total attendees on 61 teams raised more than $93,000 for this year’s annual Relay for Life, benefiting the American Cancer Society.

Over $88,000 had already been raised up to the start of Friday’s 12-hour event, easily topping last year’s overall fundraising total of $82,000. As of Sunday, this year’s total amount raised stood at more than $93,752, which did not yet include money that was taken in at the event with Carolina Cash and other donations that were still coming in, according to Relay co-chair Thomas Wood, a fourth-year international studies student.

This year’s 1,303 pre-registered participants for the event were a slight dip from last year’s preregistrations, but actual attendance was far greater than organizers expected based on online registration numbers. The 2,000 distributed wristbands were not enough to supply the attending crowd, according to Wood.

A Disney theme inspired teams and participants to tap into their creativity, as many walkers sported themed costumes and glittery crowns. The spirit of Disney reflected the hopeful enthusiasm of cure supporters, Wood said.

“We chose this theme because with Disney, you know the saying, ‘When you wish upon a star, your dreams will come true,’” Wood said. “So we were thinking that in this mind set, we are wishing for a cure (for) cancer, and in doing so we are fundraising and raising awareness in the community.”

Food, games and a lively DJ kept participants amped up throughout the long night. Some groups danced their way around the track, and on at least one occasion, masses of attendees rushed into the center of the track to V.I.C.’s “Wobble Baby.”

The mood turned solemn and reflective, however, for the annual lighting of the luminaries lining the track. As the luminaries were lit, most of them inscribed in memory of loved ones lost to cancer or in honor of survivors, participants walked laps of silence and a large banner that read, “HOPE,” was flipped to reveal “CURE.”

“[The luminaries] are definitely the most personal and touching part of the event,” Wood said. “This is a time for people to reflect and remember loved ones they have lost to cancer and honor those who are continuing to battle cancer or who are in remission.”

With estimates of approximately 12 million people living with cancer in the United States at any time, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, and more than 577,000 people expected to die of some form of cancer this year, according to the American Cancer Society, there were many Relay participants who felt some personal interest in support of the cure efforts.

Second-year political science student Ashley Ehlers has been involved with Relay for Life for eight years, including this year and the previous at USC. As someone who has lost multiple family members to cancer, Ehlers feels she has a deep investment in the fight against the disease.

“I’ve never met anybody who’s not been touched by cancer,” Ehlers said. “If it’s something that’s big enough to affect almost everyone I’ve ever known, then it’s something worth fighting against.”