Coral Gables fights cancer with Relay For Life

One in every three individuals will be diagnosed with cancer in his or her lifetime. Relay For Life [Relay], the single largest non-profit event in the world, is the American Cancer Society’s signature activity, offering local communities a chance to participate in the fight against cancer.

UM participated in Relay for the first time last weekend. Minority Women in Medicine sponsored the event.

UM now joins other universities including University of Florida, Florida State University, and Florida International University that have been participating in Relay for years.

“The event is about honoring survivors, so it brings those members out and remembers those we have lost to cancer,” said Kaitlyn Swedlow, junior and participant in Relay since she age 11. “[Relay also] raises money for research so that one day cancer won’t be something we have to worry about.”

With over 400 participants, the Coral Gables Relay had a total of 20 teams, 10 from UM. The teams together surpassed their goal of raising $35,000, ultimately contributing $50,000 toward research to find a cure for cancer.

Each team camped out overnight and took turns walking or running around the path all night long. Teams adorned their tents with party decorations to fit the “Celebrating for a Cure” theme.

The teams also raised funds by soliciting donations, having garage sales, and holding car washes.

In addition to raising money for a cure, Relay paid tribute to those who have survived a battle with cancer. The first lap of the event was a Victory Lap for survivors. Every Relay also features the Luminaria, a ceremony in which luminaria bags surrounding the track are illuminated. Each bag carries the name of someone who has battled or is still fighting cancer.

“The majority of my family members have been touched by cancer,” Swedlow said. “My aunt and my mom are survivors, and I hope that one day we will find a cure so that it won’t affect my sisters and my children and other people that I love.”

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