Relay for Life: Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back.
by Celeste Phillips


On Saturday May 3, UCSB held its annual Relay For Life, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society in which teams of ten walk around Drake Track for twenty-four hours. In order to participate, each team must raise at least $100, through pledges and donations, although many teams collect much more.

On the day of the event, each team pitched tents and set up camp in the middle of the track, where they spent the entire day. The teams assigned their members to walk in two-hour shifts throughout the course of the twenty four hour event.

Throughout the day the Relay Event Crew, clad in red shirts, entertained the walkers with a variety of musical entertainment and games, such as the cupcake walk and the three-legged race.

This year UCSB was represented by teams from many student groups on campus. Many fraternities and sororities and the athletic trainers from Robb Gym had campsites on the inner green of the track. The residence halls were present as well, with RHA, Anacapa, and Santa Rosa dorms walking for cancer research.

The day opened under the banner of purple and white balloons where a young cancer survivor named Becca sang the first song of the ceremonies. She began by telling her story of her battle with cancer. At the young age of sixteen, her doctors found a rare form of cancer that would soon spread to her lungs if left untreated. Becca sang an original song, “Through the Fire,” that she wrote during her battle with cancer. Her voice and her message seemed to resonate with the participants.

The Event Crew provided food and water throughout the day as the music kept playing and the games kept going. The walkers were not yet concerned with the late night shifts that awaited them. One participant, Brittney Tomaszewski, spoke of her late night trek around the track. “We didn’t care about walking at three in the morning. It was cold out, but we had an awesome time!” she said of her late night shift with the Athletic Trainers Team.

The next morning, proud of themselves and looking forward to long afternoon naps, the team members gathered in the middle of the track for the closing ceremonies. The cancer survivors present shared their stories and the importance of the event shone on many faces. The purple signs that surrounded the track, filled with cancer facts and statistics, reminded participants why they agreed to march in an oval for an entire day.

During the closing ceremonies Jamie, a leader of the Event Crew, announced that this year’s Relay For Life raised approximately $71,000. With all of the proceeds and donations from the event going to the American Cancer Society, the UCSB community continues the yearly tradition of contributing to the funding of cancer research.