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Relay for Life Aims to ‘Knock Out Cancer’

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By Chris Karlesky
March 22, 2012

Hundreds of Franklin & Marshall students will join members of the faculty and professional staff in the Alumni Sports & Fitness Center (ASFC) on March 30 for the College’s sixth annual Relay for Life, celebrating the lives of cancer survivors, remembering loved ones and uniting to fight against the disease. The overnight event, which benefits the American Cancer Society, begins on Friday, March 30, at 5 p.m. and ends Saturday, March 31, at 5 a.m.

Participants in this year’s Relay for Life will also have a chance to make history. The event’s organizers hope to break the Guinness World Record for the largest game of knockout basketball, a game in which players make shots at the free-throw line to survive elimination. The current record of 168 players was set at Utah State University in April 2011.

F&M students are planning the game to coincide with the theme of this year’s Relay for Life: Knocking Out Cancer.

“Everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer,” said Dara Hesslein ’12, president of F&M’s chapter of Colleges Against Cancer (CAC) and a special studies major who is participating in her fourth Relay for Life. “I believe it is up to today’s youth to participate in community-wide events like Relay for Life that are focused on celebrating cancer survivors, remembering those who have lost the battle to cancer, and fighting back against this terrible disease.”

More than 580 F&M students have registered to participate in 47 relay teams, with both figures continuing to rise. Interested students may register online or may sign up at the ASFC the day of the event. Participants have raised $34,145 to date, more than half of the $63,000 goal set by student organizers.

Relay for Life kicks off with an opening ceremony and survivor ceremony. Dozens of cancer survivors and “virtual survivors”—people walking for survivors who are unable to attend—will participate in a ceremonial lap around the track in the ASFC. Later in the evening, a luminary ceremony will commemorate those who lost their lives to cancer.

The event will feature performances by student groups and other activities. It includes the Pantene Beautiful Lengths hair-cutting ceremony, in which people will donate cuttings of their hair for wigs for cancer patients.

This marks the second year F&M has a chapter with CAC, a national, student-run organization. While CAC’s main event is Relay for Life, its members also work in other ways to raise awareness about cancer education and advocacy on campuses across the country.