It was a night to remember. It was a night to recognize. It was a night to pay tribute to those we have lost and those who are fighting.
Cancer never sleeps and neither did many students during George Mason University’s Relay For Life. The relay began on Saturday and ran until 6 a.m. Sunday morning in the Field House. Countless students came out to support the cause and walk to put an end to cancer. Teams from different school organizations participated, including the women’s rugby team, university scholars and fraternities and sororities. Some teams were dedicated to specific people who were fighting the battle themselves.
The event started off with the National Anthem performed by Off the Books, followed by speeches from student cancer survivors. First to the podium was freshman Emily Albis who began her battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the end of 2010. During her speech, Albis held back tears as she thanked everyone for coming out.
“Cancer sucks … No one should have to go through what I have to,” Albis said.
Mason graduate Evan Milberg spoke next. Milberg, currently a graduate student at Georgetown University, fought both testicular cancer and stage zero melanoma. Though he had to battle through both cancers, Milberg had a positive, inspiring attitude. During his speech he mentioned that everyone has six degrees of separation to cancer. Everyone knows someone, whether it’s a family member, friend or acquaintance, who is dealing with cancer. Cancer affects everybody.
After the speeches, the survivor lap took place, followed by the caregiver lap. All of the teams stood around the track as those who have fought and won their battle with cancer came around. It was an emotional and uplifting moment. When both laps concluded, the teams were all called and began their walks around the track.
Along with the food and fundraisers offered throughout the complex, attendees could participate in various events and performances. This included a wing-eating contest, donut race around the track, dodge ball and other games and activities.
Around 8 p.m., groups got together and danced to V.I.C.’s “Wobble Baby” and Cupid’s “Cupid Shuffle.” Students all around were laughing and appeared in good spirits.
The Luminaria ceremony took place at 9 p.m. and luminaria bags were lit in honor of those who’ve struggled against cancer. Cancer survivor and Mason professor Leslie Morton spoke during the ceremony about how cancer affects everyone.
“You are going to survive,” Morton said. “You are stronger than you think. You are braver than you seem.”
Morton went on to praise all of the participants for fighting cancer.
“The finish line, our goal, is the cure,” she said.
The Luminaria gave participants time to think and, for some, time to mourn.
The night was filled with entertainment, including performances from Urbanknowlogy and Danny Schlenker, and concluded with a glow stick rave.
Cancer affects everyone in some way, and everyone who took part in Mason’s Relay For Life helped fight the battle. The total amount raised was $85,962, which surpassed the goal of $85,000. Everyone who took part deserves praise. It was truly a night to remember.