by Alexandra Greenwald
Though many Kenyon students’ lives have been affected by cancer in some way, Relay For Life co-chair Evie Kennedy ’17 will have two loved ones to honor as she walks around Toan Indoor Track on Saturday.
While Kennedy has dedicated her fundraising to her aunt, a breast cancer survivor, she also participates in Relay for Life in honor of her best friend’s mother, who died of stage IV lung cancer during Kennedy’s senior year of high school.
“I think cancer for a lot of people, no matter how it affects you, makes you feel really powerless, because you feel like there’s nothing you can do about it,” Kennedy said. “And so I guess this just gives me hope that there is something that can be done about it. I really like the feeling that we’re working towards a goal that can actually help people, so [they] don’t have to lose their moms when they’re 18.”
Relay For Life co-chair Hannah Laub ’16 is in her second year as a co-chair for the event. Laub participates in honor of her father, who passed away from stage-four lung cancer when Laub was 14.
Laub said she thinks Relay For Life is an important Kenyon event because it allows those who have been affected by cancer in some way to get involved with a community full of people who have had similar experiences.
“The most important part of doing Relay for me at Kenyon is being visible, and letting Kenyon students who have been affected by cancer realize that there is a community of support on campus,” she said. “Whether or not they use it, we’re here and we understand and we’re available.”
Laub noted this community has been meaningful to her in previous years’ Relay events.
“The moment I kind of realized I wasn’t alone in my experience was when I was the Luminaria co-chair [in 2013], and during the Luminaria Ceremony … when I said if you relay for a parent who has been affected by cancer, crack your glow stick now,” Laub said. ”That’s when I cracked mine, but I was really taken aback because so many other people also cracked theirs. I remember kind of being speechless for a moment, because I didn’t realize that there were so many other people that had the same experience as me.”
Assistant Director of New Student Orientation and Community Programs Lacey Filkins is advising the Relay for Life committee for the first time this year. In prior years, former Director of Student Activities and Greek Life Christina Mastrangelo Haas helped sponsor the event. Laura Kane, director of student activities and Greek life, said the Student Activities Office shifted the responsibility to Filkins because of her background in community service.
Filkins and the Relay For Life co-chairs have made several changes from previous years’ events, such as shifting the event from night to day and working to increase community outreach. She said such efforts will make the event more accessible to both community members with children and survivors who wish to participate in the survivor laps and Luminaria Ceremony.
Filkins encourages the entire community to stop by the event even if they do not know someone affected by cancer.
“It’s a time for celebration, too,” Filkins said. “It’s not just a remembrance event. It really is a time to celebrate folks who have beat cancer and how we can move forward.”
Relay For Life is a fundraising event for the American Cancer Society, and will take place at the Kenyon Athletic Center (KAC) on Saturday from noon to midnight. The theme will be “the 1980s” to commemorate the fundraiser’s 30th anniversary. Various student organizations will sell items and hold activities to contribute to the cause between ceremonies dedicated to cancer patients, survivors and those who have passed away.
The Relay For Life committee hopes to raise $58,000 this year.