UNL's Relay for Life raises hope, $24,000 for cancer research

UNL's Relay for Life raises hope, $24,000 for cancer research

While some in Lincoln slept Sunday morning, students, family members, high schoolers and many others walked and raised $24,000 for cancer research during Relay for Life in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln City Rec Center.

Relay for Life is a national charity event that raises awareness and money for cancer research through the American Cancer Society. Not only does the money go toward research but also to Hope Lodge (a home away from home for patients and caregivers), rides to treatments and other ways to help people who are battling cancer.

The UNL Relay for Life event was attended by about 400 participants who took part in different activities throughout the night as well as the opening and closing ceremonies and the Luminaria Ceremony. Some of the highlights of the night were a human Hungry Hungry Hippos game, a pageant with lip syncing and a Jazzercise class. The theme for this year’s event was Give Cancer the Boot, so there was line dancing as well.

Several student groups made teams for the event including Greek houses, the marching band and a high school honor society. The event lasted from 6 p.m. until 2 a.m., although fundraising has been going on a lot longer.

“I’ve posted my donation link on social media probably every week since the start of the school year,” said Sara Duke, the president of the College Kids Against Cancer Committee and planner for the UNL Relay for Life event.

Duke was involved with Relay for Life at her high school and wanted to continue with the event in college. Duke said she walks for both of her grandmas who were diagnosed with cancer.

Her favorite part of the relay was the Luminaria Ceremony. During the ceremony, the lights are dimmed and everyone lights a glow stick in remembrance of those who they’ve lost from cancer and those who have suffered from it.

“It’s really special to look out and be able to see through the lights how many people have been affected,” Duke said.

Duke spent most of the event in jail -- but only a makeshift one. This meant her group paid to make her stay in a makeshift jail for a fundraising activity. The jail cost $1 for every five minutes of jail time, and Duke was in there for two and a half hours.

“We want to raise awareness while people are having a good time,” she said.

Relay for Life has also given members a chance to connect with other schools across the country. Members of the organization went to Kansas City in February to meet with other relays and share their thoughts and ideas.

“Somebody knows somebody that’s been affected by cancer,” Duke said.

Lisa Ciurej said she came to the event to support her son Alex who was one of the event coordinators. She brought her family to partake in the fun.

“We’ve all been walking and having fun,” Ciurej said. “My six year old wants to stay until 2 a.m., and he keeps wanting us to put him in jail.”

The event hit close to home for Ciurej because she is a survivor of breast cancer. Ciurej’s son, Alex, is currently applying to medical schools to become an oncologist.

“I think this event is important because it brings awareness and hopefully will help to find a cure,” Ciurej said. “My son is going to find a cure.”


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