Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Relay for Life brings community together

By Batala Aristide

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. -- For the last 10 years students not only from

Plattsburgh State, but from all over the country, gather around for 12

hours-sing, dance, march, and come together for solidarity, for

community, for life. Relay for Life, an event that brings people from all

walks of life regardless of age or social status into an arena where

they have the same common enemy-Cancer.

The Relay for Life event would never happened had it not been

the courage and fortitude of one man to make the event a global

phenomenon. In May 1985, Gordy Klatt, a medical surgeon from

Tacoma, Washington-was thinking of new ways to increase the

income of his local American Cancer Society office, so he decided to

do that along with combining his passion-running a marathon. Klatt

spent 24 hours running 83 miles around Baker Stadium at the

University of Puget; 41 years later, his legacy lives on and Relay for

Life is still bringing awareness to the disease.

Many students have witnessed the impact of Relay. Olivia

Edwards, a Plattsburgh State student and member of Alpha Epsilon

Phi sorority has attended Relay for Life twice, and this time around

she fully understood the importance.

“I realized there are more people around me who have been

impacted by cancer,” Edwards said. Edwards goes on to add that the

highlight of the night for her was the Luminaria event-a candlelight vigil

when the sun sets to remember loved ones who have been affected

and died from the disease. The Luminaria can be filled with a name,

photo or an inspirational message.

“That part (Luminaria) was very touching and it brought a lot of

people closer,” Edwards said. She was not the only student who took

solace knowing the event was for a great cause. Plattsburgh State

Freshman Travis Jones also believed the event brought home a

powerful message.

“Cancer affects everyone. An event like this is important because

it is one of those rare moments where people are united instead of

divided. I really like that,” Jones said. Before the event, Jones has

never heard of Relay for Life and originally wanted to attend because

his friends were attending the event as well. That is when Jones was

told by one of his good friends that they had a relative die from

Cancer. Jones went for a different reason this time; to support his best


“That really hurt me when he told me that. I wanted to go to turn

up, but after my best friend told me the news about his Aunt, I went

because I wanted to support my bro,” Jones said.

The event although for a serious cause, is nothing short of

celebratory. Students walked all around the track at the Fieldhouse

where they were greeted with performances by the Plattsburgh Kick

line, Dance Corps and even some slack lining. The event was success

with Plattsburgh State raising more than $50,000 for the American

Cancer Society.

“It was amazing. I have to come back next year,” replied Jeff

Woods, who is not a Plattsburgh State student but attended the event

because he too had a close friend who lost a family member to


“If events like this do not impact you in some way, you have no

soul,” Woods said. Woods was as fiery as he was emotional. He does

not have anyone close to him who is affected by the disease, but

watching his close friends hurt, hurt him as well. The Luminaria

ceremony was when Woods broke down.

“I just could not bottle it in that long, I just lost it” Woods said.

The moment of silence during the Luminaria event is what Woods is

referring to. Relay for Life can do that to you. The event is more than

about raising money, but more so celebrating life; Life lost, and life

that still exists.

One person who played a role in this year’s event was Jasmine

Callis, a member of the Relay for Life Public Relations committee.

Callis attended her first relay and talked about the importance of such

an event.

“It’s a good helping hand and it shows more compassion to the

community,” Callis said. Callis agrees that such an event is

celebrating a great cause and event like this not only takes a toll on

you emotionally to attend, but also to plan it.

Callis says she tries to see the best in situations and hopes the

event can continue to reach everyone because “cancer never sleeps”.

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