Relay for Life draws 400 people
Three years ago, senior Ryan Mainhardt’s mind was not focused on participating in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event. Instead, he was focused on something else – cancer.
In September of 2000, Mainhardt was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer that affects the lymphatic system. It was an event that changed his outlook on life, he said.
“At first, I was really confused and angry as to how I … could have cancer,” Mainhardt said. “It didn’t make sense.”
On Friday night in McPhee Center, Mainhardt led the opening lap of the Relay for Life event as a cancer survivor.
“It was an honor to lead the first lap,” he said. “(Relay for Life) shows people that cancer can happen to anyone at anytime, but it can also be beaten.”
David Becker, the income development manager for the ACS and UW-Eau Claire event coordinator said about 150 more people participated this year than last.
With that many more in the event, he said there were about 400 total participants raising money in the fight against cancer.
|“Their money and their participation is greatly appreciated by everyone who is battling the disease.”
Senior, diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in fall 2000
“I’d say (the event’s) very successful,” Becker said. “I’ve already got people saying ‘We’re doing this again next year.’ ”
Becker said for the event to be successful, it has to raise $10,000. Last year, Eau Claire raised $16,000 for the ACS through Relay for Life. This year, the event raised more than $23,000.
Among the participants were teams that kept members on the track throughout the night. This year, 25 teams participated, up from 17 last year.
“I was touched to see so many people at the relay,” Mainhardt said. “Their money and their participation is greatly appreciated by everyone who is battling the disease.”
The event began at 9 p.m. and ran through the night until the closing ceremonies at 7 a.m. Saturday.
“Cancer never sleeps,” Becker said. “It’s a time that we … set aside 12 to 15 hours to fight cancer.”
As participants walked or jogged around the track, there were other things to do, such as listen to music groups and participate in the Relay Olympics.
The Relay Olympics provided participants with a chance to get rejuvenated in the later hours of the night, Becker said. It consists of events like the Hula-Hoop Relay, Balloon Waddle and Twister.
Even at 1:30 a.m., while some participants spent time in sleeping bags on the McPhee floor, others were still lively, walking around the track.
“I thought I’d be a lot more tired than I am,” senior Crystal Flick said. “There’s a lot of energy around here. Everyone’s letting out a vibe.”
Flick, an accounting and finance double major, said the event meant more to her because of her experiences with cancer-related deaths in her family.
The bands that came to play didn’t have a difficult time singing in the late hours.
“We’d sing again,” said senior Anne Verbeten, a member of the all-female a cappella group Girls Night Out. “It’s unbelievable how many people come and support this.”
Relay for Life began in Tacoma, Wash., when Dr. Gordy Klatt walked and ran around a track for 24 hours, clocking 83 miles and raising $27,000 for the ACS, according to the organization’s Web site. Since that time, the event has continued to be a success, Becker said.
“(Relay for Life) is the American Cancer Society’s signature event,” he said. “I think this event, like no other, gets the emotion.”
Mainhardt said he enjoyed participating and was grateful for the way the event turned out.
“It never hurts to show someone you care,” Mainhardt said. “It really meant a lot to me.”