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By Holly BruckenIn a 12-hour event, the UK Relay for Life raised $20,707.37 this weekend to help fight cancer.
Relay for Life started Saturday and ended Sunday morning, and consisted of relay teams whose members took turns walking laps around the Seaton Center gym.
“It symbolizes what a cancer patient goes through — going into darkness and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Elizabeth Raggio, the American Cancer Society’s staff adviser.
The event kicked off with cancer survivors walking the first lap.
The event included speakers and ceremonies throughout. This included Luminaria, a ceremony to honor fallen cancer victims, and the Fight Back Ceremony, where participants filled out cards pledging to give back to the cancer society.
According to the Relay website, 363 people were registered.
Each team was responsible for fundraising prior to the event, which benefits the American Cancer Society. While the money goes to this national organization, it also benefits the local cancer community.
“A lot of that money comes back to our community by researchers who receive grants,” Raggio said.
The American Cancer Society funds the Hope Lodge in Lexington, which houses families and patients who are undergoing cancer treatment. Lexington and UK researchers also receive grants from the society.
Teams raised money in various ways; many donated from their own pockets or from their parents. Some sororities raised money by charging a set amount of money for a dress down day at their weekly chapter meeting, which is typically business attire. The fraternity Fiji pledged to shave a member’s hair for every $50 that was raised.
Many of the participants have been involved in Relay for Life for years.
“I participated on my high school team,” student Lauren Kirk said. She learned about UK’s Relay for Life at one of the basketball ticket lotteries.
“I was excited because I didn’t know we had one here,” she said.
Phi Delta Theta fraternity was the top fundraising team, followed by independent runners and Phi Sigma Rho.
Robby Hertzel of Phi Delt was the top individual fundraiser out of more than 350 participants.
Farmhouse fraternity won the spirit award.
To conclude the event, participants who filled out pledge cards in the Fight Back Ceremony attached them to balloons and let them loose outside of the gym.
“We’re teenagers, we stay up all night anyway,” said Kirk, who believes that the least she and other students can do is use that time to benefit others.