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


Relay for Life preparations already underway

Time, passion, and a relentless will to overcome extraordinary odds are the must-have ingredients to organize and execute a tremendously charitable event on a college campus, year after year.

Welcome to “Relay to Life,” an event benefiting cancer victims and the American Cancer

Society. Its generals are an army of students at Southern Methodist University that dedicate tremendous hours preparing the 12-hour, overnight marathon event upcoming on April 17, 2009.

“The whole event takes place over one night to signify that cancer never sleeps,” said Alex Cohen, Relay Co-Chair growth and junior SMU student. This year the event is themed after US Army slogan: “There’s strong, and then there’s Relay strong.”

“Relay for Life” is a national fundraiser inspiring 3.5 million people, many of who are college students, to participate on campuses around the country in a walk around a running track to fight cancer. Teams of people take turns walking around the track, while others enjoy the live bands, food, and “on-sight fundraisers.” Last year, nearly 700 SMU students participated in hosting the fourth most successful Relay event in the nation, raising a total of $142,033.

So why do students, like Cohen and hundreds of other young volunteers, dedicate countless hours of their time and energy to this charitable causes?

“As a student, I dream of the difference I can make in the world when I graduate,” said Devon Meyers, Publicity co-chair for Relay for Life 2009. There is an innocent passion rooted in the heart of so many young Americans that can often ignite amazing change to world.

Judy Burgstrum, a breast cancer survivor and advocate of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, said her only regret in life is not getting involved with the foundation earlier. Getting yearly pap smears, participating in fundraisers, such as “Relay for Life” and “Race for the Cure,” are simple ways to get involved and save a life.

Burgstrum celebrates three years of recovery this spring, and she is thankful every day to the people who supported her through the battle for her life.

It’s the support from those similar to the 700 students walking around the SMU Boulevard from 4 p.m. until 4 a.m. that revived Burgstum’s hope, and contagiously inspired other students, like Charlie McMahan, 22.

McMahan is a college student at Santa Clara University in California, and in his senior year of high school he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. “My whole world stopped, and I immediately knew my life would never be the same,” said McMahan about the first time he learned his condition.

“You must be consummately positive and spirited, while also listening to the inner cynic and realist,” he said. McMahan said his friends were his saving grace, because they were relentlessly impracticable, constantly looking at the positive, and pushing McMahan to keep a brave smile.

The evening of April 17, at SMU’s “Relay for Life” event, some will see SMU’s “track,” the Boulevard, stuffed with students and people of all ages from the Dallas community. The music and energy can not be missed.

But if you look close enough, you’re sure to find a sea of individuals; all walking around that track with a common bond of celebrating the most fragile gift – the gift of life.

“The first lap around the Boulevard is walked only by the [cancer] survivors and everyone else just applauds wildly, the survivors are all so grateful and proud,” said Cohen.

Every generation of college students asks the question, “What can we do to truly make a difference?” From the Vietnam War protests of the 1960’s to contemporary efforts regarding Katrina, Darfur, and even the election of Barack Obama, college students across the nation vow to take chances, and through thoughtful actions, they hope to propel the extraordinary life journey awaiting them after graduation.

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