Every single person at this university has been affected by cancer. According to the National Center for Health Statistics website, cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States, exceeded only by heart disease. Whether they currently have cancer themselves, are in remission, lived in the aftermath of loss to cancer, or witnessed firsthand the struggle of a friend, family member or neighbor, I truly doubt there is not a single student, faculty or staff member or Hamilton resident who has not had cancer touch some aspect of their lives. And for precisely that reason, every single person on campus should participate in this year’s Relay for Life.
Starting on the Friday evening of September 28 and continuing into Saturday morning, the Relay for Life teams will be present on Whitnall Field. The Relay is a simple enough concept. Teams are formed in order to raise money for cancer research; there is a small registration fee, and the money goes to the American Cancer Society. The teams walk laps around a track, field or gym. Traditionally, the first lap is walked by cancer survivors present. As the Relay continues, at least one member of each team should be on the track at all times. Walking is only one aspect, though. Luminaries can also be purchased in honor or in memory of cancer survivors and victims, and the luminaries will be lit in a special ceremony during the event.
The school is even providing free food and musical entertainment. If it takes free food and Dangerboy to pull people out of the frat parties and the Jug for a night, let’s break out the pizza right now. Giving up one Friday in order to honor others in our lives who have struggled with an intense ordeal and to bond with members of a community who have been through the same kind of personal, emotional and physical stress should not be a difficult choice.
If you are mourning the loss of someone dear to you, walk with us. If you are celebrating the remission of a loved one, walk with us. If you want to honor those in your life who are currently fighting cancer, walk with us. We walk to commemorate. We walk to encourage. We walk, all night, to symbolize the battle that people important to us cannot, could not choose to put aside, but also to symbolize the support we offer them throughout their struggle. No one is ever alone on the track, no matter how dark the night.
If this cause resonates at all with you, and I refuse to believe it does not, find a way to get involved. There are sign-ups in the Coop all week. If you miss the registration sheets, the Facebook event group has a link to the American Cancer Society webpage with Colgate’s information. Be active. Buy a luminary. Join a team. Form a team. Make a pledge to bring coffee to your friends on the field. Make a pledge to quit smoking and going to tanning beds. Make a pledge to the American Cancer Society, and help support the fight against cancer in all its forms. Do more than wear a bracelet or a ribbon.
The track is in front of you, Colgate. Take the right step.