One Step at a Time: Third annual Relay for Life raises money for cancer research, inspires participants

By Jonathan Aviles

“It’s because of people like you we are able to keep pressing
on,” said Kommah Seray, a breast cancer survivor, at Sunday’s
portion of the Relay for Life fundraiser.

The third annual relay held on campus, a fundraising event meant
to benefit the fight against cancer, took place this past weekend
in the University Quad.

The fundraiser event began in the mid-1980s when Tacoma, Wash.,
doctor Gordy Klatt decided to raise money for his local American
Cancer Society office. Klatt did so by running for 24 hours
straight and raised $27,000.

Initially, several hundred signed up to take part in the
fundraising, but at the time of the Fighting Back ceremony, which
took place near the end of the 24-hour event, there were only
around 30 participants still in attendance.

“[There are only] 30 people here at the end, and last year there
were a lot more,” said David Jaoi, a third-year computer
information systems student.

Along with attendance, donations were also down. This year the
event raised around $8,000 for the fight against cancer. Last
year’s relay raised $10,000, and 2006 brought in $30,000.

The team that raised the most money was Team Village People, who
raised around $1,500. They began raising money before the event
started by hosting a car wash.

“Online they raised $570. Today they turned in $956, and total
it was $1,526,” said Mskindness Batchler, the event

To those who did attend the event, Seray’s speech during the
Fighting Back ceremony reminded them about why they were there.
Seray, diagnosed at age 23, served as an inspiration to those
looking to pledge money.

“She [spoke well], but it’s sad that someone so young had to go
through that,” said Jaoi. “It was very inspirational.”

Seray’s speech, which came in the early morning on Sunday, was
one of the many mini-events that took place for Relay for Life
teams as they walked around the course.

Michael Wong, another cancer survivor, spoke the previous night
during the Luminary ceremony on how leukemia affected his

“As a kid my favorite thing to do was play basketball, and when
that was taken away from me … I was devastated,” said Wong. “I
was diagnosed with leukemia in 2002. It finally sunk in and I had
to deal with it.”

Seray and Wong’s speeches touched on the purpose of the 24-hour
event. Starbucks was there to help support the cause as well as
help participants stay awake. They offered their traditional drinks
free of charge with each Starbucks worker there as a volunteer.

“We had volunteers and participants, so that was completely
different from what we came to do,” said Julie Yu, a Starbucks
store manager. “We had no selling; we’re just giving out free

Along with Starbucks, participants were also given a video game
to keep them occupied and awake throughout the night.

“Oh, yeah, and there was Guitar Hero. On the big screen on
stage,” said Matt Camea, a second-year English student. “That was a

As the video game-filled night passed, the morning soon came and
brought the end of the 24-hour event.

At the Fight Back ceremony – the last of the presentations –
Seray gave the point of the event in her speech. This put the event
in perspective and what it means to those who have cancer.

“It’s about helping others and preserving the quality of life
for others, because just cause you have cancer doesn’t mean your
life has to suck or you have to be sad,” said Seray. “It makes a
world of difference, so remember … keep fighting back.”

One Step at a Time: Third annual Relay for Life raises money for cancer research, inspires participants

Joseph Muldoon/Poly Post

One Step at a Time: Third annual Relay for Life raises money for cancer research, inspires participants

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