USC's Relay For Life raised $179,000 of its $200,000 goal for the American Cancer Society after its annual event, which spanned from 5 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Saturday.
Over 1,000 students and community members gathered at Blatt Fields to walk a track, participate in events and honor both those who have died of cancer and cancer survivors.
“I do have several family members and one friend back home who have been afflicted by cancer, and it’s good to know that I’m doing something towards the cause,” Ray Petrus, a second-year international business and finance student, said.
Planning for Relay For Life begins months before the 12-hour event. For the actual event, different clubs, organizations and teams set up tents to sell food, crafts and other goods to raise money.
The American Cancer Society uses the money raised by Relay For Life to fund various programs including rides to treatment, research and hope lodges. Hope lodges are places for cancer patients to stay for free if they have to travel for their treatments.
Though Relay For Life proceeds go towards helping countless cancer patients and their families, Jenna El Ghatit, a second-year Spanish and psychology student, says one of the greatest impacts of the event is how much education it provides to students and the community.
“It just brings more awareness to our campus, especially people who are driving by and seeing all the tents and seeing how much fun everyone's having," El Ghatit said.
More than 38% of all people will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lives according to the National Cancer Institute. Some Relay For Life participants have seen the effects of cancer firsthand.
Aubrie Hammond, a second-year pharmacy student, said she participates in Relay For Life to help everyone suffering from cancer, especially after seeing how the American Cancer Society supported her best friend while she was suffering from cancer during college.
Some students also said they would like to see cancer be completely eliminated, like Alia Pease, a third-year psychology student, whose father had breast cancer when she was little.
“It was really hard on our family to deal with that,” Pease said. “I just want to not put that hardship on any other family.”
Alexa Capozzoli, a third-year marketing and management student and the executive marketing chair for Relay For Life, said that even though the relay is supposed to be fun, including competitions like a lip-sync battle and a doughnut eating contest, there were also some serious moments throughout the night. Capozzoli mentioned the lighting of the luminarias, a ceremony that allows attendees to celebrate survivors and remember those who have lost their battles to cancer.
“It is a very fun event, and we love to make it that way, but the luminaria ceremony is done through every single Relay For Life, and it’s just a moment to really bring it all back in and just remember why you relay."
Ross Jaeger, a first-year biology student, says he had fun with both his rugby teammates and new people he met while at Relay For Life, all while helping a great cause.
“Affiliation is not that big of a deal for me,” Jaeger said. “Now that I know about this, I actually know what it's for, I wouldn’t have to be on a rugby team to come; I’m just going to come no matter what.”