On Friday, April 20, Relay for Life will be coming back for its fifth year at Spring Arbor University (SAU). Relay for Life used to be hosted by Student Development but was dropped last year due to a busy schedule. This year, however, Relay for Life is returning thanks to the efforts of Emilee Barnes.
Barnes is running Relay for Life as part of an internship with the American Cancer Society (ACS). “God has really been working this year,” said Barnes. “It’s become something much bigger than I could have ever done on my own.”
Relay for Life will be held in Dunckel Gymnasium. Unlike most Relay for Life events, SAU’s Relay will only go for 18-20 hours instead of the full 24. The event kicks off with a “soft start” at 3 p.m. on Friday and ends at 11 a.m. or 12 p.m. on Saturday.
“We wanted to give people the chance to participate without taking up their whole weekend,” said Barnes.
The official kick-off begins at 6 p.m. The survivor’s lap, a special time for those who have personally survived cancer, will take place at 6:30 p.m. The Luminaria service, with memorial bags containing candles for those who have survived cancer, will take place directly following the “Switchfoot” concert, happening in the fieldhouse that night.
Relay for Life volunteers will also be inside the “Switchfoot” concert selling concessions. All proceeds from concessions purchased will go directly to the money raised from Relay for Life.
Attractions at Relay for Life include a henna booth, a booth selling homemade energy drinks for $2 and a silent auction. Items for sale include gift cards to various stores and restaurants in the Spring Arbor and Jackson area, a signed Pistons basketball, an American flag that was flown over the Capitol signed by a senator and various gift baskets. There will also be a showing of the movie “The Bucket List.”
Barnes has been working to organize the Relay for Life since September. She first became involved with Relay for Life her freshman year at SAU, when she was a team captain, and Barnes said the ACS is close to her heart.
The summer before Barnes’ freshman year at SAU, her younger brother was diagnosed with a rare and advanced form of cancer called Burkitt’s lymphoma.
“It was one of those moments when you realize that nothing is ever going to be the same again,” said Barnes.
Her brother was treated with a new treatment from the ACS that had only been given to two other patients before, and he had a turnaround. It was this personal impact, said Barnes, that made her want to become involved in Relay for Life, and her internship with the ACS.
Barnes urges students to get involved. “Everyone thinks being team captain is a big deal, but it’s not that much work. It will maybe take two hours a week.”
If students want to get involved, they can go to www.relayforlife.org/springarborumi to register and get more information. It costs $10 per team to register, and then teams do fundraising on their own. Money raised goes to the ACS general fund, with most of the money going towards research and the rest to services provided by the ACS for cancer patients.