Relay For Life: Fighting Back with Cupcakes, Smiles and Luminaria


Penn State’s Relay For Life this weekend was, as always, an amazing success. The event, which raises funds for cancer research and treatment year-round, takes no backseat to THON—it walks alongside it.

The weekend started off right with $109,000 already donated to the cause, a significant increase to last year’s total of $69,620. Preparation for Relay seems to pick right back up as soon as the previous Relay has passed.

Lauren Thigpen, a Logistics Captain, explains that Relay is always happening, even when people aren’t running laps.

“Basically, the Overall committee starts right after Relay is over,” says Thigpen excitedly, “they pick all the captains in the beginning of October.” Thigpen says the Logistics team, as well as the other committees, work nonstop, usually from Friday to Sunday.

“We try to do as much on Friday as we can, but [this year] it rained, so we got here early this morning,” says Thigpen. She, among many others, was at the Medlar Field setting up from 7 a.m. onward.

By 2 p.m. on Saturday, the sky was still overcast and the wind was fierce, but that didn’t stop the 134 teams from setting up their tents.

The teams competed for the top ten spots at Medlar field, and if they were lucky enough, they set up in suites above the main level—heated suites. There were other heated spots up for grabs throughout the weekend, such as the batting cages.

There were many scheduled activities throughout the weekend like hair donations on 4 p.m. on Saturday and Zumba at 9 a.m. on Sunday. One popular event for which almost a thousand participants were present was the lighting of the Luminaries.

Patrick Chambers gave a motivational speech at one point in the weekend: “We are not fighting cancer alone. Continue to persevere. There’s a lot we can do together. We can fight cancer—we will beat cancer because of you!”

The last hour of Relay was also incredibly emotional. Kathryn Kehoe, the Greek Involvement chair, courageously shared her personal story with the audience. She says that when she was nine years old, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and beat it, but lost her second battle while Kehoe was in college. Kehoe says that her mother was her sunshine.

“Nobody should ever live without their sunshine. This is why I relay,” says Kehoe.

Thigpen says that Medlar Field was a great location to have Relay For Life, despite its challenges: “There were a lot of restrictions to using Medlar Field. We can’t be on the grass and we can’t use anything but tape on the ground, but the location was worth it!”

She also says that Relay For Life has been picking up popularity among the Penn State community within the last year. “It’s not just a matter of competing with THON. They’re both such wonderful things but our PR is stronger and we’re more noticeable. Our teams are increasing and our total is off the wall!” says Thigpen.

The seats in Medlar Field weren’t all taken at the end of Relay, but the field was filled with the love and support of those who were there. Finally, the Relay captains revealed that we managed to raise $139,602.59 which is over $69,900 more than last year’s total.

Regardless of the increasing involvement, it’s important to consider why Relay For Life is not as popular at Penn State as THON—the participants and contributors of Relay for Life have raised over $400 million each year.

We’re looking forward to another successful Relay for Life in 2014, which is sure to blow this year’s amount out of the water.

Updated 11/15/2013

Photo by Ashley Zucker 




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