Monday, April 30, 2012

Relay for Life - Two Student Testimonies



 



Relay for Life 2012

Congratulations to all who worked so hard to put together this year’s Relay for Life and to all who participated. We asked two PT students involved with Relay for Life, Maureen Kessler and Dhart Shah, to share about their experience. Read on to learn what inspired them to help!

I first got involved in Relay For Life at SLU when I came to SLU and visited the club fair in the quad. I had been involved with Relay in the past and knew it was something that I wanted to continue in high school. Cancer does not discriminate, it can effect anyone of any race, socio-economic condition, gender, or sexual orientation.
I came into contact with cancer very early in life when my older sister Hetal, who was three at the time, was diagnosed with Leukemia. She spent her childhood in hospitals and still held herself with grace and poise through everything. She didn't want to be a cancer patient, she just wanted to be a normal kid. The Make A Wish foundation reached out to our family and granted my sister one wish--to go to Disney World. They were taken by her youthful spirit and could see how very special she was. Five years later, she was deemed cancer free. She is now a fourteen year survivor and gives back by participating in her university's Dance Marathon and Relay For Life. Though cancer took a lot from her and our family, she hopes to one day see a world in which cancer does not exist. I don't tell you this to make you sad, but to share with you all my reason to relay. I relay for my sister. I relay for more birthdays. I relay for all the families that have been torn apart. I relay for (more) life.
This year on committee I was a part of Corporate Sponsorship, I spoke to many businesses to try to get donations to our event and to the American Cancer Society. Relay for Life is an amazing experience in which everyone can come together for a united cause and provide comfort and support. The unity is tangible when you walk into the stadium, you can all relate to one another and come together to defeat our common enemy: cancer. Whether you are a survivor, a caregiver, know someone who has cancer, or just wants to see cancer stop creeping into our lives, you can be a part of this amazing event.
During that night, we celebrate those who have won their fight against cancer, remember those who have been lost to cancer, and fight back in this on-going battle against cancer. Despite it all, the entire night is a celebration! This year we had Zumba, and all of the A Capella and dance groups on campus perform. As a university, we raised over $130,000 for the American Cancer Society. I highly encourage everyone to attend this event next year. It is truly an experience, and it is one that will change you forever.

-      Dharti Shah  

“Relay for Life”- Three words that usually bring a mixture of emotions to the person who says them: happiness, sadness, confusion, and gratitude. I first heard of Relay when I was in high school. It was some sort of event in which people stayed overnight in tents on the football field and had fundraisers, which included dunk tanks, games, selling food and other items. Oh, and there was TONS of purple everywhere! I was never able to participate in Relay in high school, as our Relay had a strict policy about each team participant needing to stay the entire time of Relay. I was on the track team, and as it so happened, each year on the date of Relay, we either were just finishing a track meet, or we had a meet the next day. Therefore, that would have disqualified me from staying the entire night. However, my Junior year in high school, I had just gotten back from a meet, and everyone decided to stay for the Luminaria ceremony. I was taken aback by the immense support demonstrated by the school and local community for the event. As the speakers recited their stories and experiences with cancer, it was both saddening and heartwarming to know how many people are affected by this disease. Someone’s parent, a friend, grandparent, and sibling: each person knew someone who had battled cancer at some point in their life. Being in a smaller city where everyone knows everyone, there was not a dry eye in the stadium as the stories of loved ones who had either won or lost their cancer battle were read. It was truly a touching moment, and the atmosphere that was brought over the event was something indescribable.
Fast forwarding to college, I had an idea of what Relay for Life entailed. I had a conflict my freshman year with the date so I did not attend, but I have been a Team Captain for the past two years for the Physical Therapy Student Council team, due to my duties as Vice President of Service of PT Stuco. I have really enjoyed the past two events! Our team usually has an on-site fundraiser where we give massages! This fundraiser has always been a big hit, and friends that I have that are on the Executive Committee told me that they always look forward to the massage booth, especially when they have been running around the event and preparing all day to make the event as special as possible. This year we raised $153 throughout the evening, which was great considering the night of Relay was not the best weather; cold temperatures and rain later in the evening made it a little uncomfortable to bear, but a few members of my team and stuck it out until 2 AM! However, we all had a great time talking, listening to music, and eating snacks despite the unpleasant weather! I ended up staying the entire time at Relay in support of my friends and family members that have battled cancer, as well as to support the efforts put forth by the Relay for Life committee for the past 10 months in planning the event; they did a great job with everything! And, as I mentioned in my high school experience, the Luminaria ceremony is one that will always stick out in my mind as a sign of Relay. As the Luminaria bags line the track, the names are read, and everyone walks around the track with lit candles, it is just a special moment to remember those who lost their battle and those that are currently fighting cancer.
Although the event ended early due to the torrential rain, I believe that SLU as a community donated close to $130,000 to the American Cancer Society from the event, which is awesome! I am happy that I was able to be a part of the event, and I hope to be involved again next year as either a team captain or just a member of a Relay team. This is truly a great experience that helps many people who are in for the battle of their life, whether personally fighting the cancer battle or caring for those friends and family members who are sick. After all, PTs are there to help others, right? This is just one way to start off a great career and support a great cause. I encourage everyone to be involved in Relay for Life next year!

-      Maureen Kessler
 


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