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UA hosts Relay for Life to raise money for cancer

Morgan Reames

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The University of Alabama will host Relay for Life at Sam Bailey Track and Field Stadium Friday.

Relay for Life is a national overnight event sponsored by the American Cancer Society to raise money and awareness for cancer treatment and research.

“Teams have been formed, and each team is supposed to have at least one member walking or running on the track at all times,” Leela Foley, a junior majoring in public relations and marketing director for the event, said. “The idea is that ‘cancer never sleeps,’ and so not only do teams raise money, but they are symbolically fighting back against cancer by not sleeping as well.”

The relay will begin Friday at 6 p.m. and end Saturday at 6 a.m.

“To students I would say that Relay For Life is important to attend, because cancer is something that affects us all,” Foley said. “Unfortunately, almost everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer.”

Individual participants are not required to stay the entire 12 hours. Games, refreshments and activities will be provided. The event will include a survivors walk along with a luminaria ceremony after dark to remember all those affected by the disease, those who have been lost to cancer and those who continue to fight.

Foley said watching her best friend go through the pain of losing her dad to cancer was one of the hardest things she has ever experienced and also encouraged her to become a part of Relay for Life.

“It may seem as if cancer only affects older people, but I have personally interviewed a UA student who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in high school,” Foley said. “It’s easy to live on a college campus and forget about the harsh realities of our world, but they creep in.”

Laura Lantrip, executive director of the event, said scientists believe that cancer can be cured in her lifetime.

“With the support of organizations like Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society, I believe this goal is in sight,” Lantrip said.

The first Relay for Life began in 1985 when a colorectal surgeon from Tacoma ran for 24 hours around a track for more than 83 miles to raise money for his local American Cancer Society office. Dr. Gordy Klatt managed to raise $27,000 from his run, which eventually turned into a national relay that includes more than 5,200 events across the U.S.

“As a campus, we’ve almost raised $45,000,” Lantrip said. “If that’s what the 578 registered participants can do alone, think about what the entire student body can accomplish.”

This event has been in the works since early last fall, and the process wasn’t easy, Lantrip said.

“We went through interest meetings and then the difficult task of assigning qualified individuals to appropriate committee positions,” Lantrip said. “Our next task was getting the word out and recruiting teams. The key to a successful event has definitely been communication. The school, community and local businesses have been so eager to help us. All we had to do was explain our cause and ask.”

Lantrip said her interest in fighting cancer began when she lost her grandfather to pancreatic cancer in the 7th grade.

“Cancer is confusing for someone at that age. You’re old enough to understand what cancer is but too young to understand how it could happen,” Lantrip said. “To this day, I still don’t think anyone can explain to me why it happens to those we love. What I do understand though is that we have the power to help end this horrible disease.”

Students can sign up to participate or donate at

“That’s why we do Relay for Life, so we can get closer to preventing people from losing the ones they love,” Foley said.

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UA hosts Relay for Life to raise money for cancer