The University of San Diego hosts it third annual Relay for Life event on March 30-31 and this year, the USD student committee has big goals for the 24-hour event, which spotlights cancer survivors and raises money and awareness for cancer research.
Colleges Against Cancer (CAC) is a campus club founded in early 2011 that works with the American Cancer Society to advocate for cancer research, but its main dedication is to organizing and running Relay for Life.
The USD Residence Hall Association (RHA) ran the first USD-sanctioned event with current student Samantha Jasa as its co-chair. Jasa, who serves as its committee chair and co-chairs Natasha Daulat, Neesha Daulat, and Lani May Centeno, founded the CAC. The student organization was able to raise more than $40,000 at last year’s Relay for Life (picture, below, from 2011 event) and students are hopeful of topping last year’s intake.
This year’s event, to be held at USD’s Valley Field from 6 p.m. to 6 p.m., has a special theme. It’s called “iRelay for Life” in honor of late Apple founder Steve Jobs, who passed away from pancreatic cancer. Another important aspect of the event’s name is to have participants complete the statement “iRelay for…” to indicate who they’re supporting at this event.
The Relay for Life concept, created by a doctor in Tacoma, Wash., in 1985, features teams of people who camp out at an event site and take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times. Relays are 24 hours in length, representing the reality that cancer never sleeps. By participating, it’s a way to honor cancer survivors, pay tribute to the lives lost and raise money to help fight cancer in local communities.
Studies indicate that cancer is the world’s No. 1 leading cause of death. It’s quite likely that most everyone has been touched in some way, whether it be a friend or family member, by cancer. The USD Relay for Life event is one of many taking place nationwide to raise money to help find a cure and to promote consistent awareness.
At USD, “Relay for Life will build a community on campus of all those who have been touched by cancer,” Jasa said, adding she wants community members “to realizes that there is great support on-campus through the community, love, and hope that is shared at USD.”
Last year’s successful event has raised the enthusiasm level for the committee as it has stated its goals are to raise $50,000 and 500 participants and to have 50 survivors who kickoff the relay with a survivors lap, showing that they have fought the battle and won.
According to co-chair Natasha Daulat, the event has so far raised around $10,000 but the committee expects the majority of donations to come in this week and on the day of the event.
As one of CAC’s founders, Natasha Daulat said she anticipates another very successful event. She’s seen the Relay for Life event grow from the very beginning and only expects to see it move forward from here. Natasha, previously untouched by cancer in her immediate family, disclosed that she had a great aunt recently pass away from cancer, making this week’s event “a little bit more special and closer to [her] heart.”
As the original Colleges Against Cancer committee members near their last year as USD students, one of their main objectives is to see future students keep up the fight. They’ve added a few new co-chairs as part of a legacy plan to keep the club strong as well as the Relay for Life event. After all, it’s very important to search for a cure that could save millions of lives.
“Cancer is something that doesn’t sleep, it doesn’t choose who it’s going to affect, and, at some point, everyone will know someone who has been affected. With that kind of knowledge you should really get involved in an event that strives to celebrate, remember and fight back.”
— Aryana Abraham ‘14