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Honoring those who have lost to cancer, and supporting those who continue to fight

“Cancer never sleeps, and so neither will we,” said Christine Eliason, committee chair for the 2011 Relay For Life.

Relay For Life is a traditional event held at UMass Dartmouth to honor those who have lost their battle with cancer and to support those who continue to fight.

The event will take place on the campus quad on April 15. Opening ceremonies will begin at 6:00 and the relay will carry through the night.

The opening ceremony begins with the survivor’s lap, where survivors are invited to circle the track together and help everyone celebrate the victories over cancer.

“Spreading awareness is one of the reasons Relay For Life is held,” added Eliason. “The more people involved the better. It is so important to recognize how many people are affected by cancer, and just as important to show them support.”

Each year Relay For Life has a theme that is somehow incorporated into the event. This year’s theme is ‘Birthdays’. Relay For Life is the ‘official sponsor of birthdays’

“My personal favorite event of the night is the Luminara Light,” said Eliason. “It is a wonderful time to reflect and of course to remember those who you miss so much.”

The Luminaria Ceremony begins after dark to honor people who have been touched by cancer and remember loved ones lost to the disease. Candles are lit inside bags filled with sand, each one containing the name of a person touched by cancer, and participants typically walk a lap in silence.

Co-chair of the Relay For Life and freshman psychology major Siobhan Smith said that the Relay has a more personal meaning for her.

“Relay is important to me because I am a cancer survivor, as are my mother and grandfather,” said Smith. “On the night of the Relay, it’s amazing to see how many people come out to honor survivors and to fight back against the disease. It is incredibly powerful.”

To participate students create teams among themselves and raise money. A typical relay team is made up of eight to fifteen people.  The actual relay usually lasts for about 18 to 24 hours.

“The event is a special night for friends and memories,” said Eliason. “Staying up for such a good cause and for so long usually inspires some pretty good times between friends.”

Fundraisers have been and will be held this week for the Relay. Tuesday was “Relay Night at Applebees”, Wednesday was a carwash for the relay in front of the Unity House, and tonight – Thursday, April 14 - is a Bar 908 night where part of the proceeds will go to Relay For Life.

For more information on Relay For Life, contact Cheyenne Lantz and Siobhan Smith, event co-chars at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

“Being a part of Relay For Life means that you are being a part of something that is bigger than yourself,” concludes Eliason. “Students are making a difference by staying up all night and raising money.”

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