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

Fight cancer, honor survivors

Spencer J Eggers/The Daily Campus
Cancer survivors from the April 15, 2011 Relay for Life walk around the boulevard to kick off the event in solidarity with survivors the world round.

Cancer survivors from the April 15, 2011 Relay for Life walk around the boulevard to kick off the event in solidarity with survivors the world round. (Spencer J Eggers/The Daily Campus)

Karen Gray was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005.

After struggling through her treatment and its effects, Gray was invited by SMU Chi Omega to participate in SMU’s 2006 Relay For Life.

With parents, friends and fellow Chi Omegas, Gray began her Relay, and with it her calling to promote awareness for all types of cancer.

“I remember searching for any with my name on them. Would anyone remember me? Would I find my name?” Gray said, reflecting on her first look at the luminaries that lined the Boulevard.

“There were uncles remembered, aunts, childhood friends, teachers … and then there it was … ‘Keg’ – someone had remembered me.”

Relay For Life strives to celebrate the lives of those who have survived, remember those who have passed and initiate a promise to fight against cancer.

The SMU community will come together on April 13 for a night of recognition, remembrance, games, music and fellowship, as people show their support in the fight against cancer through SMU’s ninth annual Relay For Life.

This year SMU’s Relay will include entertainment from a variety of groups and performers, including Mustang Mavericks, Belle Tones, Southern Gentlemen, the Stefani Little Band, Empower African dancers, MOVE, TREAT, Spencer Fox and more.

In addition to song and dance, participants will have a chance to partake in several contests, a wing-eating contest and car smash and other activities, some of which include a Zumba class, yoga class, hair donation, kick-boxing class, movie on the lawn, a wide selection of food and desserts and several other on-site fundraisers.

Megan Marchant, an SMU student and member of SMU’s Relay For Life board, is hopeful that this year’s fundraising will surpass last year’s amount of a little over $100,000.

“Our goal is to raise $116,000 or more,” Marchant said.

“Right now we have raised $76,915, compared to last year, to date, which was $28,852. As you can see, this year has been a special year for fundraising, so we hope to raise a record amount for SMU’s Relay this year.”

Marchant hopes to have around 1,000 participants by the night of the Relay, although she said many more would join the night of the event.

She encourages everyone who wants to participate in the event to register online and begin their personal fundraising before the night of the Relay.

Relay is a special event for many people, and Marchant is no exception.

“Relay For Life for me means a world with more birthdays. I know that we all have been affected by cancer in some manner and strongly believe that we can find a cure for this terrible disease,” Marchant said.

“I hope to one day live in a world where there is a cure for cancer and believe Relay For Life and the American Cancer Society can make this hope one day a reality.”

Since 1985, the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life has been doing just that: raising money to fight against cancer.

The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life began in Tacoma, Wash., when Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon, desired to increase the income of his local American Cancer Society office, while also showing support for all his patients who had battled cancer.

Taking the initiative, Dr. Klatt chose to raise the money by running.

In May of 1985, Dr. Klatt ran for 24 hours around the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound.

Dr. Klatt ran for more than 83 miles, and meanwhile all his friends, family and patients who had come to support him donated $25 to run or walk with him for 30 minutes.

That first year he raised $27,000 to fight cancer.

While running, Dr. Klatt realized a 24-hour team relay event could raise even more money to fight cancer.

Dr. Klatt went on to put together a committee to plan the first team relay event.

In 1986, the first team Relay took place, raising $33,000.

Today, Klatt’s vision has expanded to Relays for all ages including Community Relay, College Relay, High School Relay, Relay Field Day, Relay Recess and Bark For Life.

At all levels, however, Relay includes a Survivor’s Lap, during which cancer survivors start off the night’s event and take the first lap, a Luminaria Ceremony, where individuals take the opportunity to remember those touched by cancer by placing a candle inside a bag with the name of a loved one on it, and last is the Fight Back Ceremony, where participants make a commitment to fight against cancer.

Samantha Matthews, an SMU senior and member of the Relay For Life board at SMU, said, “That’s the reason I’m doing this. That’s why I Relay.”

Matthews’ grandmother passed away from cancer, and now her dear friend Makenna Loerwald is fighting against the disease.

Kenna’s Crew will be participating in SMU’s Relay For Life, something that holds a special place in Matthews’ heart.

Matthews is not alone. Countless students and members of SMU’s community have been touched by cancer in one way or another.

But, through Relay for Life, they are able to commemorate the lives of friends and family and take up the fight against cancer. 

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