Relay for Life brings hope for a cure to Franklin Field

The cancer awareness event has raised over $50,000 for the American Cancer Society so far this year

· April 2, 2012, 1:11 am   ·  Updated April 4, 2012, 12:04 am

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Two thousand Vitamin Water bottles, 25 camping tents and a loud speaker blasting “We Are Young” — and it was only 7 p.m.

Relay for Life, an all-night event to help raise awareness and funds for cancer research through the American Cancer Society, held its ninth annual event at Penn Saturday night on Franklin Field.

The goal for the event was to “bring everybody together, recognize the survivors, [show] we support them, [and] know why we’re here,” College senior Jesse Rappaport, a co-director of the event, said. Relay for Life has become growing trend across the nation and although successful, “it still has a lot of room to grow [and] become an entirely different event,” Rappaport added.

According to Penn’s Relay for Life event website, the campaign’s raised $50,694 and attracted 929 participants to date. However, the numbers may not yet reflect the additional money Relay raised from last minute cash donations at the event on Saturday.

Despite the cold and rainy day, a multitude of students representing various groups came out to the cause, including Quaker Girls, Penn Six, Sparks Dance Company and the Penn Band.

College junior Michele Saums, a Quaker Girls dancer,said, “We traditionally do this event and it’s a great place to put all the dances from the year together and a great way to end the year. Basketball season is over but we still like to perform and it’s a great cause.”

Guests enjoyed the food and entertainment Relay for Life organizers prepared. Their work involved “getting people to fundraise, getting people to register [and] getting sponsorship,” Engineering senior Michelle Calabrese, a co-director of the event, said.

Getting the word out was a challenge, she added. Since many freshmen were unfamiliar with the event, upperclassmen stepped in to communicate the purpose behind the event. It was most important to educate the student body and get people involved.

College freshman and Sigma Kappa sister Becky Chalsen came with members of her sorority to support the cause. “It’s a really fun event to go to because everyone’s together. It’s a really good bonding experience and you’re also helping a great cause,” she said.

College freshman Arjuna Keshavan said he really supports the Relay for Life organization. “I really like Relay for Life because they touch on really important issues and find unique ways to get people to help,” Keshavan said.

“I decided to join Relay because three of my four grandparents have had cancer and I thought it was a great way for me to give back and help the community,” College senior Kathlyn Herrick and another co-director of the event said.

College freshman and Alpha Chi Omega sister Nicole Malick came to Relay for her grandfather. “I’m here because my grandfather died of cancer. A lot of girls from my sorority are also directly effected by cancer so I thought it was a worthwhile cause,” Malick said.

Student groups came out to support the cause by offering their assistance and performing. College freshman Zack Schwartz explained what the Penn Band was doing to support Relay for Life. “We have a fundraiser event where people are going to use us as a jukebox and we’ll play whatever song they want over the loud speaker,” Schwartz said.

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