Students to rally together at UK Relay For Life



By Abigail Shipp | @KyKernel

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UK students are gearing up for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life event taking place this weekend on the Johnson Center Fields.

Starting on Friday, 68 teams with 391 participants will gather for the 12-hour event to raise money and awareness for cancer research.

“It’s an opportunity for the community to come together to celebrate our cancer survivors, remember those affected by it and to fight back against the disease by raising money for research,” said Elizabeth Raggio, community representative for the American Cancer Society.

From 7 p.m.-7 a.m., teams will walk because “cancer never sleeps,” said Bridget Shrigley, marketing junior and marketing director for UK’s Relay committee.

During the opening ceremony, participants can expect to hear various speakers, including Dr. Brett Spear, a researcher from UK’s Markey Cancer Center.

The relay begins with the Survivor Lap, where survivors walk to celebrate their win in the battle against cancer. The Caregiver Lap recognizes those who have helped a cancer patient through their journey.

All teams will then be invited to walk with at least one or more members on the track throughout the night.

The Luminaria Ceremony is at midnight. Luminarias, which are white paper bags with a glow stick inside, can be purchased for $5 and are decorated to remember those who have passed or are battling cancer.

“That’s definitely the most emotional part of the night. A lot of people do cry, which is understandable,” said Brad Harris, economics and finance senior, executive director for UK’s Relay for Life committee and eight-time participant.

The event ends with the Fight Back Ceremony, an energetic finale where teams take one more lap and write ways they vow to fight back against cancer.

“It’s supposed to mimic how a cancer patient’s day would go,” Harris said. “As the sun goes down, it gets colder and fighting gets harder. The sun comes back up and there’s hope in fighting back.”

But the night will be filled with more than just the relay.

The theme this year is Disney, so team members who are not walking can enjoy various Disney-themed games, such as Disney trivia, a Prince Charming contest and more.

“We’ve come up with so much stuff to make sure people have ways to stay busy for 12 hours,” Shrigley said.

Participants are encouraged to dress up for the various themed laps, which include everything from Epcot to Space Mountain.

Participants wearing costumes can earn spirit points, and the person with the most spirit points will receive a prize at the end of the event.

The ultimate purpose for the event is to raise money for the American Cancer Society. All profits go toward cancer research, treatment and prevention.

UK’s Relay for Life has set a goal to raise $40,000 this year. Last year, they raised about $22,000. Currently, about $16,500 has been raised.

“It’s hard to project how much we’ll make,” Raggio said. “But we’re hoping to be at least near $30,000 by this weekend.”

Teams pay a $10 registration fee and are encouraged (but not required) to raise at least $100. Teams who raise $100 or more get a T-shirt and access to catering from Qdoba, Starbucks, Raising Cane’s, Magee’s Bakery and more.

The top three teams and the top three individuals to raise the most money will get a prize. As of Monday, team FIJI was in the lead with about $1,650, followed by team Alpha Phi and team Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

Harris is the team captain for FIJI. Shrigley, from team AOPII, was in the lead for individuals with about $620.

Donations are also accepted by cash or check at Friday’s event, or by credit card at

Individuals can register new teams, join existing teams or sign up as volunteers up until the day of the event.

“I think the majority of people have been affected (by cancer) in some way, whether they lost someone to it or know someone who’s had it,” Raggio said. “(Relay for Life) is a great way to learn more about it and how you can help.”

To learn more about the event or to hear facts about cancer, visit the Relay for Life UK page on Facebook or follow @UKRelayForLife on Twitter.