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Student-run Relay for Life will support cancer research

Colleen Shula | Friday, October 7, 2005

It’s no surprise to see students pulling all-nighters at this time of year in preparation for midterms, but a different kind of all-nighter will take place this Friday.

This weekend marks the third annual Relay for Life sponsored by the American Cancer Society Club of Notre Dame. Participants will walk around the Stepan Center track from 6 p.m. Friday until 10 a.m. Saturday.

Last year the event attracted 1,300 participants and raised $102,000, said Relay co-chair Dee Dee Sterling, whose goal is to raise a minimum of $100,000 this year. Thursday night, the Relay Web site reported a total slightly over $33,000.

Stanford sophomore Chris Rohrs was in the lead Tuesday for money raised at Notre Dame. He said he collected about $3,400 of Stanford’s $3,700.

“I’ve seen cancer affect so many lives of people I know, and it hit close to home for me recently, so I felt I needed to do what I could to help,” said Rohrs, who was involved in Relay during high school.

Rohrs said he will make sure that a member from the Stanford team is walking around the track at all times, although he will do plenty of walking himself.

Notre Dame students and faculty as well as area families form teams to participate in the event. As of Wednesday, 65 teams were signed up for the Relay.

Each team member pays a $10 registration fee and collects donations that are given to the American Cancer Society. At the relay, teammates walk in shifts around the track from the start of the event Saturday evening to the closing ceremonies the next morning.

“Everyone [who’s] in it wants to be there and has a good time doing it,” Lewis team captain Amanda Flynn said.

Many students take the initiative to enlist members to represent the different dorms on campus.

“I hope to motivate the dorm to show their support for people who are fighting and have fought cancer,” Siegfried team coordinator Terence Merritt said.

The Relay will kick off with a red carpet walk up to Stepan Center. Opening ceremonies will begin at 6:30 p.m. with an invocation and welcoming remarks. Distinguished members of the Notre Dame community, including University President Father John Jenkins, University Provost Thomas Burish and former Notre Dame quarterback Ron Powlus, will be in attendance.

The night’s events will include a silent auction, pumpkin contest, musical entertainment, karaoke singing, hayrides and a luminaria ceremony. The Relay will conclude Saturday morning with awards, an announcement of the grand total, a musical performance by violinist Allis Tweed-Kent and a concluding lap around the Stepan track.

A number of other Notre Dame fundraisers are also collecting money for the American Cancer Society. Volunteers are gathering quarters to line the track this weekend and selling items ranging from wristbands and chemo caps to mini-golf passes. Physics professor Ikaros Bigi is offering tutoring in physics, math, history, German and the history of art in exchange for a $15 donation for each hour.

Some businesses outside of Notre Dame, like the Roseland Pizza Hut, donated a portion of each customer’s bill on four days in September to the American Cancer Society.

The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life has three million participants in 4,200 communities across the U.S. who will raise millions of dollars in this year alone. Proceeds from these events support cancer research, spreading the word, political lobbying for cancer issues and support for victims and survivors.