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Campus joins South Bend to walk against cancer

Sarah Mayer | Monday, April 27, 2009

More than 600 people walked in the sixth annual Relay for Life to raise money to fight cancer in the Stepan Center from Friday evening through Saturday morning, said student committee chair Adam Lamm.

“It is symbolic that the fight against cancer is a 24-hour battle, and not just something we fight by day,” said Lamm.

Unlike previous years, this year’s event was moved from South Quad to the Stepan Center to allow the event to be able to take place overnight.

People were allowed to set up campsites in the Stepan Center as a place to store their belongings and take a nap throughout the night if they needed to.

Members from the Notre Dame Band helped open the event by playing a mini-concert and leading the first lap after the opening ceremony.

“The band is always an excellent way to start off any Notre Dame event,” said Lamm, “It boosted the morale of the crowd.”

Former Notre Dame basketball coach Digger Phelps kicked off the opening ceremony. After welcoming the participants, Phelps handed the microphone to Payton, a 7 year-old boy who is battling childhood leukemia.

“Stories like Payton’s are why we do Relay,” said Lamm.

Before the opening ceremonies were complete, Dillon Hall Rector Father Paul Doyle gave a blessing to the crowd.

A comedy group, karaoke, the band Chicken Jackson and the PEMCo. singers made appearances to provide entertainment.

People had the opportunity to purchase luminaries in honor of friends and relatives who are currently struggling or have lost the battle against cancer to remember them in a “concrete and tangible way,” said Lamm.

Cancer survivors were also present to inspire the people who walked throughout the night.

“We did have many cancer survivors in attendance, and asked that survivors sign a special commemorative banner,” Lamm said. “It is a goal of the planning committee to repeat this tradition every year, and bring back all of the past year’s survivorship banners.”

Donations are still being accepted for this year’s Relay for Life.

“Around $44,000 was raised up to and including the event, but we expect to see the number approach and pass $50,000 as more donations come in,” Lamm said. “A major goal of the event is raising both funds, but also cancer awareness, and I think that we achieved that in a major way.”