Sunday, April 7, 2013

Relay for Life @ Mac

On Friday, Macalester held its 5th annual Relay for Life at our indoor track and field complex. 30 teams of students brought blankets, pillows, card games, snacks, frisbees, and basketballs, and camped out overnight. I was proud to be the captain of team Medicinal Melodies, and to provide over an hour of live music for the walkers, runners--even bikers and skateboarders!--taking their shifts on the track.
Relay for Life is an all-night vigil honoring cancer victims, survivors, and caretakers. At least one member of each team must be walking around the track, from 6 that night until 6 the next morning. Leading up to the event, each team member works toward a personal fundraising goal for the American Cancer Society. We do this each year hoping that someday, we won't have to do it anymore.

The night alternates between solemn ceremony and lighthearted optimism. We encourage each other with our joy throughout the night, just as we would encourage a loved one battling a ruthless disease. My shifts of circling the track involved more running, skipping, and dancing than actual walking.  Off the track, I painted a few faces to fundraise for our team.

I am involved in 3 different music groups on campus, and they all performed on the stage next to the track: Medicinal Melodies, The Sirens (all female a cappella) and the jazz ensemble my friends and I put together for academic credit. Singing and playing 3 sets of music was hectic, but fun. In addition to student bands, a number by the Irish Dance troupe, a juggling lesson, and goofy contests kept everyone going.

There isn't a lot of pressure to stay until 6 AM. Many of us have homework, rehearsals, or work commitments the next day. I did make it long enough to hear my friend Beth speak about working with Mac staff and students to organize a bone marrow registry drive on campus. Only by making small changes, she said, 
can we work toward bigger ones. As Relayers, our small change was raising a grand total of $21,000 for cancer research.

This is my third year being part of Relay for Life.  Between performing, traversing the track, and hanging out with teammates, it is always a highlight of my spring semester. Possibly even my year.