WSU hosts “Relay for Life” for first time in years

%E2%80%9CRelay+for+Life%E2%80%9C+ended+with+%243%2C000+raised%2C+adding+to+their+previous+raised+funds%2C+totaling+to+about+%247%2C000+donated+to+the+American+Cancer+Society.

Mohammed Islam

“Relay for Life“ ended with $3,000 raised, adding to their previous raised funds, totaling to about $7,000 donated to the American Cancer Society.

Jiovani Bermudez, features reporter

On April 8, 2022, Winona State University hosted the “Relay for Life” event in McCown Gym. Winona State, St. Mary College and University of Wisconsin-La Crosse chapters of Colleges Against Cancer came together for the event. All money raised at the event went to support the American Cancer Society (ACS).

Kaycee Redican is a fourth-year elementary and early childhood education major and co-president of the Colleges Against Cancer chapter at Winona State. Redican was present for the “Relay for Life” event back in her freshman year as well. Unfortunately, that was also the same year COVID-19 would put a hold on future events.

For three years “Relay for Life” could not be held due to the pandemic. This resulted in decreased membership for the clubs that were involved in the event. Despite these problems, Redican was ecstatic to see the event finally make a return; so much so that she helped organize and host it.

“It can be stressful at times, but I know it will be worth it,” Redican said. “We have raised $4,000 so far from donations… Our goal is $10,000.”

The gym was decorated with a vast amount of paper bags, carrying on them a hopeful message or the name of a cancer victim or survivor.

Pictured are some of the paper bags created by the event’s attendees. (Mohammed Islam)

The event opened with survivors sharing their stories. One of these survivors was Bob Baeker, a dairy farmer from Buffalo County, Wis.

“It’s heartwarming to see kids give their time…It’s great for myself and others with cancer,” Baeker shared.

The event also featured a multitude of tabling stations held by several clubs, fraternities and sororities. The Winona State Nursing Club held a roulette game, the Movement Science Club sold popcorn and Sigma Sigma Sigma (SSS) sold paintings.

Tierney Murtagh, a third-year nursing major and member of SSS, has a personal connection to the event too.

“[SSS] wanted to support the American Cancer Society. My mother passed away from cancer when I was 8…It’s a way to honor her,” Murtagh shared.

There were countless stories of loss and pain brought by cancer shared during the event, creating a space for open conversation and emotion to occur. Nayli Cubias, a third-year public relations and Spanish major, commented on her experience.

“My mom’s a survivor…I was eight years old,” Cubias said. “As I got older it scared me more knowing I could’ve lost my mom.”

The event also held a variety of competitions for the attendees, including a wing eating contest, 3-legged race and a Hula Hoop contest.

Catlin Larson is a freshman at Winona State majoring in art education and is also a member of Colleges Against Cancer.

“We are lucky to be a part of this for the people who need it,” Larson said.

Winona State, St. Mary College and University of Wisconsin-La Crosse chapters of Colleges Against Cancer came together for the event. All money raised at the event went to support the American Cancer Society (ACS). (Mohammed Islam)

The real beauty of the event came with the Illuminaria event. Attendees of the event all lit glow sticks and walked a lap of silence around the perimeter created by the paper bags. People placed the glowsticks among the bags as they walked, providing a light for each bag to show respect to the victims, survivors and their loved ones.

Through the silence there was an overwhelming energy of solidarity among the attendees of the event. Emotions rang powerful enough to bring many to tears. For many, their tears carried not only the sorrow of what they may have lost, but also the reassurance that there are others who understand and even more who wish to see their sorrow end.

“Relay for Life” ended with $3,000 raised, adding to their previous raised funds, totaling to $7,000 donated to ACS. Although they had fallen short of their goal, Redican still showed surprise and great joy at the large turnout after the event’s hiatus.