Dean Lenker III – Staff Writer
CLARION, Pa.- Clarion University’s annual Relay for Life took place this past weekend. The event began at 8 a.m. April 7 at the Clarion University Student Recreation Center and concluded roughly 24 hours later on Saturday morning.
Relay for Life is a national fundraiser which focuses on raising money to help prevent, treat and cure cancer. Clarion’s event managed to eclipse its goal of raising $36,000 to fight cancer.
The event consisted of activities which aimed to entertain, yet help spread awareness of cancer. Around 6 p.m., the CUP-Ellas performed the national anthem. The opening ceremony featured speeches from Relay for Life committee members Haley Brooks, Emily Cooper, Carlee Freeburg, Paige Stevenson and partner Nikki Carey of the American Cancer Society.
These speeches addressed the purpose of the event and gave recognition to the various sponsors, organizations, individuals and teams that made the event possible.
After that, the luminaria ceremony was hosted. It is among the most iconic of Relay for Life events nationwide. Bags with lit candles inside commemorate those who have lost their battle with cancer, as well as to support those who have been affected by the disease.
The night also consisted of a costume contest, a performance from the Clarion University Hip Hop Team, multiple scavenger hunts, a dance contest and several other events to keep those in attendance entertained and awake during the 24-hour period.
Five people even agreed to donate eight inches of their hair at the event; the hair will be used to make wigs for people fighting cancer.
More than 40 on-campus organizations registered a team to be part of the fundraising event. Together, the Clarion University community was able to raise $36,397 for their cause. This narrowly eclipsed the goal of $36,000 that was set prior to the event.
According to Relay Committee Vice President and Head of Recruitment Emily Cooper, this year’s Relay for Life brought the largest turnout to date. Last year, there were nearly 550 people; this year’s event attracted nearly 650.
Cooper, a senior, has been involved with Relay for Life since she was a freshman and has seen the event grow every single year. The committee personnel who run the event have changed each year with graduation, but there has been no setbacks as the event continues to grow.
“It’s my favorite event on campus. Everyone brings different things to the table,” said Cooper.
Next year, several members of the current committee will have graduated, but Cooper has no concerns that the event will continue to thrive. This is due to the fact that several underclassmen had leadership roles on the committee this year, including President Carlee Freeburg, who is a junior and will presumably head the event again next spring.
The group who raised the most money was sorority Delta Zeta, which raised a total of $3,861 for the event. The leader of their Relay team, Blythe Bryner, was happy to be a big part of the event’s success.
“It’s a huge event on campus; it is the biggest event that Clarion holds, and we focus a lot on philanthropy, so it was a great event to raise money for the American Cancer Society,” said Bryner.
One member in particular on the Delta Zeta team contributed over half of the total money they raised. This was Bailey Hosterman, a Clarion student and Delta Zeta member who raised $2,395 to donate to Relay for Life.
Hosterman raised the majority of this money from “family and friends,” she said, and she outlined that Delta Zeta does more philanthropic work than just Relay.
“Our own philanthropy has nothing to do with cancer; it’s usually with Starkey Hearing Foundation, which provides hearing aids to people who can’t afford them,” said Hosterman.
This will not be the last time that Relay for Life comes to the Clarion area this year. The Clarion County Relay for Life will take place in the Clarion University Student Recreation Center on June 10.