On Friday May 20th, the Key Club from Menomonee Falls High School put on the American Cancer Society’s renowned Relay for Life Mini Relay. 20 hours of planning gave birth to this six hour event comprised of 20 teams built from students in Menomonee Falls. Each team was required to have at least one member of their team on the track at every moment.
Strictly through donations from teams and the community, the relay was able to raise $7,600 for cancer research. For many students however, Relay for Life is something more than just a chance to volunteer. It is a night of strength and support for lost loved ones as well as those who have survived. Junior Kayla Mandry can attest to the power of Relay.
Mandry’s father was diagnosed with rectal cancer this year. “There is a part of Relay,” said Mandry, “where the children of parents affected with cancer join any cancer survivors in attendance and walk a lap silently. All around you there are luminaries, which are lit in memory of those lost to cancer, as well as those who fought it and continue to fight it every day. It’s all very emotional, but I found myself surrounded by my friends immediately.”
Togetherness is a large part of Relay for Life. Whether participants walk six miles or ten miles, they are there as one single team with one single goal: to fight cancer. At the end of the night, each person will have their own stories. They will have held hands with different people, finished their last laps thinking something different than the next person, and they will have woken up the next morning their own person. Nonetheless, from the start of the night to its end, every participant will have been there to increase the number of birthdays a victim to cancer has.
“All the crazy themed laps like back to the 80’s and revenge of the nerds or superheroes reminds a person that just because cancer sucks, doesn’t mean it’s the end of a person’s happiness. Relay for Life is all about celebrating what memories we’ve all shared with someone who has or had cancer. It’s about the good in life,” said Mandry.
What better way to honor those who have fought against cancer, than through an event that brought the community together through physical activity and volunteering, reminding us that no one is alone when it comes to this disease. Unfortunately, in this day and age, everyone seems to know someone who has been affected by cancer.
The number of luminaries gracing the track was proof of this. “When all the luminaries were lit and we were standing by the track, everyone stared. It was inspirational,” said Stephanie Thomson, one of the event’s committee members. It’s for this reason that people should feel a sense of togetherness with those who have also suffered. “Relay for Life opened the eyes of many MFHS students”.
With each other and the support of the American Cancer Society, events like this one create a sort of togetherness that can change the world. After Friday’s event, there is no doubt that it is the fight and courage of ordinary people that brings about more birthdays.