Relay for Life Spurs Cancer FightGAMBIER, Ohio (April 7, 2008) The Kenyon community will rally against cancer on April 11 and 12 by celebrating life.
The overnight Relay for Life of Kenyon College has all the trappings of a festival, with activities, games, and music, but the fun comes with the serious intent of fighting cancer. The goal is to raise $45,000, a boost from the first Kenyon Relay that raised $38,000 last year, topping its goal of $20,000.
The 2007 Relay for Life took place on the first anniversary of the cancer death of Rod Stoyel of London, England, whose son, Alex Stoyel, Class of 2008, is an organizer of this year's Relay. "This is a good cause for me to rally behind and do what I can," Alex said.
"Last year, on the anniversary, it was a coincidence, but I was actually very thankful it turned out like that," Alex said. "It gave me an extra bit of feeling and poignancy, but I was there with all my friends. People expect you to be sad, but you might want to be distracted and have a good time."
Alex credited research sponsored by the American Cancer Society for helping his father in the fight against the disease.
The money raised at the Relay is used by the cancer society for research, education, government advocacy, and services to cancer patients and their families, said Evie Miller Collins, a cancer society income-development coordinator who is working with Kenyon students on the event. Money is one goal, but another is to "empower people to fight back against the disease," she said. "This is a great community event."
About two-hundred Knox County cancer survivors have been invited to attend, and they take the first lap around the track to open the Relay at 6:00 p.m. April 11. The eighteen-hour event is fashioned to symbolize the struggle against cancer, opening in the gathering darkness of evening to suggest the diagnosis, continuing through an all-night hike around the indoor track to create a sense of struggle, and culminating at noon the next day, April 12, at a time of hope and promise.
Along the way, about thirty teams of Kenyon students will hike on the track in a non-competitive, relay walk. Teams vary in size, with most between eight and fifteen, but Collins noted that anyone can join in the walk and visitors are welcome to watch and cheer on the participants.
Money is raised by students who seek donations and host a variety of games, raffles, and food sales. The sale of memorial luminaria bags also helps the cause. The bags are set up around the track and carry the names of those who have lost their lives to cancer. Glow sticks substitute for candles in the indoor setting.
Donations can also be made through the event Web site, which includes planning details, at http://events.cancer.org/RFLKenyonCollegeOH .
Everyone in the College and Gambier communities is invited to attend, Alex Stoyel said. Live music, a volleyball tournament, and other games buoy participants but do not obscure the mission. "Curing cancer is the ultimate goal," he said.
The national Relay for Life program started in 1985. About $405 million was raised at 4,500 events last year.