The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


SMU relayed Friday, raised $123,000 for cancer

Jan Anderson/The Daily Campus

(Jan Anderson/The Daily Campus)

SMU’s Boulevard lit up Friday night as hundreds of students gathered to take part in the ninth annual Relay For Life.

More than 1,000 participants and 58 teams joined in the 12-hour walk, which took place from 5 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Saturday.

The times chosen for the walk represent the journey of the cancer patient.

“You start at 5 p.m., and it’s supposed to represent the beginning of the process,” SMU junior Alex Katsorelos said. “As the night goes on, you get more tired, which represents the cancer patient becoming weaker. But once the sun rises, it represents the hope and the future of the cancer patient.”

The event raised more than $123,000 for the American Cancer Society, which supports cancer research.

“It is so important to have this research done because we are so close,” Katsorelos said. “We’ve made so many breakthroughs. With a little more funding, I know there is a way we can find a cure for cancer.”

At the opening ceremony Friday night, cancer survivors walked around the Boulevard, honoring those who lose their lives to the disease, and acknowledging the strength it took to defeat the odds and win their own battle.

The SMU community surrounded survivors, cheering as they circled the Boulevard.

“It’s important to show the survivors that we support them and that the community and other people are aware of what they went through,” Katsorelos said.

Festivities continued all through the night as performers kept the campus awake, bringing vitality to the Boulevard.

Empower Africa dancers, Mustang Mavericks, the Stefani Little Band, Empowered Hip Hop dancers, Belle Tones, Spencer Fox, MOVE, TREAT and Southern Gentleman all entertained the crowds, bringing a celebratory atmosphere to SMU.

Students set up tents in the center of the Boulevard as they listened to music, played games, barbequed, socialized with friends and sold food, all in the hopes of raising money to find a cure for cancer.

“Gamma Phi Beta is selling cupcakes,” Katsorelos said. “We all got together as sisters and made homemade cupcakes this week. We’re also doing glow and the dark balloons.”

While the event attracts SMU students and faculty, other local schools also got involved.

“We’ve recently started a brand new chapter, Colleges Against Cancer at UT Southwestern,” Crystal Penaloza said. “We don’t have a Relay For Life on our campus so SMU was the nearest one.”

Penaloza is in the radiation oncology department at UT Southwestern.

“We do treat cancer patients, and we’re always supporting the cause of cancer research,” Penaloza said.

Kristin Martin, who is also a student at UT Southwestern in the radiation oncology department, hopes that the funds raised from Relay go towards education and screening.

“Getting it out there, how to detect cancer, how to prevent cancer is important,” Martin said. “The more knowledge people have about how to prevent it and how to screen, the better off.”

Many families around Dallas joined in on the celebration, with some sharing personal stories about the ways in which cancer has affected them.

“We tailgate on the Boulevard every year,” Dallas resident Kyle Henry said. “Several of our parents have been stricken with cancer, and we like to support this cause.”

Henry brought his two young daughters to the event as well and said it’s important to show them why the cause is important.

At nightfall, luminaries were purchased and placed around the Boulevard, honoring those who have survived, died of or are currently battling cancer.

During the Luminaria Ceremony, participants walked in a moment of silence, as candlelight flickered, lighting the way around the Boulevard.

Aside from SMU reaching its goal to raise $116,000, most participants believe the event was a success.

“I am very happy with the turnout, and the variety of the things that SMU has to offer at each of the tables,” Penaloca said.

SMU freshman Kaycee Morganto had never participated in Relay before.

“I love it so far,” Morganto said. “I think it’s awesome, and I love the creativity.”

While there are several cancer fundraisers around Dallas throughout the year, for many participants it’s the sense of community felt at Relay that sets the event apart.

“The atmosphere is different because everyone’s coming together as a community,” Katsorelos said. “It’s not simply a walk, but people are here coming up with different, creative ways to raise money. Teams raise money in their own individual ways, which is a great way to show support.”

With the success of this year’s Relay, many groups are already planning ways to improve the attendance and donations at next year’s event.

“We’re already talking about what we can do to improve next year,” Martin said. “With this demographic, we’re looking at offering healthier snack choices, fruit smoothies and stuff like that, to raise more money.”

Martin also hopes to spread the word about Relay so that more survivors take part in the event.

“I would like to see more survivors out here,” Martin said. “It’s really inspiring to see people who have survived cancer and gone through it.”

While it is easy to forget the number of people affected by cancer, Relay For Life provides the opportunity for SMU students and the community to honor those who face cancer every day.

It’s important to “support those who have cancer, to honor those who fought it and lived and to remember those who have fought hard but unfortunately passed away,” Katsorelos said.

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