BY CASEY HOLLIDAY
Ole Miss students turned out in droves Friday at the Circle to attend the annual Relay For Life event, which raised over $50,000 to combat cancer.
The event is an all-night walk to raise money for the American Cancer Society, a health organization devoted to eliminating cancer.
“This is our fourth Relay for Life, and each year we have continued to see growth,” said Adam Blackwell, co-chair of team development in the Ole Miss Relay for Life executive committee. “It’s a great event for the student body to come together and support those who have been affected by cancer, because so many people on our campus have been.”
Blackwell estimated that about 300 students participated in the night’s events, which included games like races and scavenger hunts, in addition to the walk around the Circle. There were also speeches from those whose lives have been affected by cancer.
The event lasted from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. with about 100 people staying out for the entire night. Around 20 cancer survivors attended, according to Blackwell.
At one point the football team joined the crowd to autograph football schedules for the cancer survivors.
For some students, there were personal reasons to participate.
“My mom was a preschool teacher, and she had a boy in her class that was 3 and a half years old when he was diagnosed with leukemia,” said Emily Wikle, sophomore elementary education major. “I grew very close to the family and went to chemotherapy with him. He’s my daily inspiration and he wore a ‘Life is Good’ shirt every time he went to chemo, so my motto every day is ‘Life is Good.’ He’s now in third grade and cancer-free!”
Jess Waltman, senior accounting major, has lost three family members to cancer, including an uncle just three weeks ago.
“To me, Relay means that no one is alone,” Waltman said. “Just like one does not run a relay race without partners, one does not fight cancer alone. If one is a cancer patient, then his or her caregivers, family and friends are there to carry the baton when he or she cannot cary it themselves. That can take the form of praying for that person, offering encouragement, driving him or her to the doctor, or anything that stands in the gap created by cancer. Relay for Life symbolizes that spirit of unity to me. We fight back against this disease so that one day no more lives will reach the finish line too soon.”
As this year’s relay shows, the Ole Miss student body is doing everything it can to help.
For those interested in serving on the executive committee for next year, applications will be out next week.
“We start planning in the summer to hit the ground running in the fall,” Blackwell said.