I was ten years old when I first attended Relay for Life.
Our teachers had been selling candy every Friday to support the cause, which didn’t mean anything to me at the time besides an opportunity to suck on Sour Punch Straws during science. But, my best friend’s mom was close with the teachers and was also a huge supporter of the cause, so she took her daughter and me for part of the night.
Luminaria (such as the one above) filled Adams Stadium as a statement of support for the cause. People danced to the DJ’s choices on a large stage, walked the track for lengths of time, and sold baked goods or trips to a “jail” for the cause. The enthusiasm the attendees had was inspiring; most had friends or relatives with cancer, and some battled the disease themselves, but all filled the warm May air with positivity and hope for finding a cure.
I began to become passionate about the cause, especially after one of my close friends was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. A group from our class started going in seventh grade, and I’m proud to say that I attended my seventh Relay for Life at Adams Stadium each May. Each year may bring deep discussions (occasionally followed by drama), danceoffs, and plenty of soccer-ball-kicking and frisbee-throwing, but it also brings a message of hope paralleled by none other.
If you’ve never heard of Relay, check out their website. Make a donation. Join a team, or start your own. Get involved, and help the world have more birthdays.