The University of San Diego community is preparing for this weekend’s USD Relay for Life, which goes for 24 hours, 6 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Saturday, at the Valley Soccer Field next to the main entrance’s Mission Parking Structure.
The event, which brings people together in support of cancer survivors and remember loved ones lost to the disease, hopes to raise the goal amount set by USD student director Michelle Powelson: $45,000 to help cancer researchers get a little closer to a cure.
“If there’s someone out there who doesn’t know someone close to them that’s had cancer, that’s extremely rare,” said Powelson, a junior chemistry major and president of USD’s chapter of the national Colleges Against Cancer (CAC) organization. “I have a passion to stop everyone from hurting.”
Powelson has three close relatives, including her father, who’ve suffered with some form of cancer. She added that a few USD professors, when introducing themselves to their classes at the start of this semester, mentioned that they, too, were cancer survivors or had someone close to them with it and they talked about how it changed their life. It was very powerful.”
The USD Relay for Life’s American Cancer Society web page indicates that 50 teams comprised of USD students, campus organizations, staff, faculty, administrators and community members are closing in on $20,000 raised. Powelson and her team, known as College Avenging Cancer, is leading the way with more than $4,000 raised. Multiple teams have raised more than $2,000. More donations are expected this week and during the event. The web page will remain active beyond this weekend, too, thus encouraging recurring support.
But in-person participation this Friday and Saturday is unmatched as feel-good medicine. It’s inspiring, educational and supportive to the many who not only walk laps around the field to support the cause, but also for the many people present who are cancer survivors. The 24 hours will feature special moments as well as food, activities and more. Some students will even walk laps for the entire event.
This year’s theme, Powelson said, is to “Be a Superhero” to help in the fight against cancer. “We encourage everyone to come to the event and dress as their favorite superhero, create your own superhero — it needs to be university appropriate — and be a Relay for Life Superhero.”
The ACS Relay for Life concept has been held in states and communities throughout the United States since the mid-1980s. “It’s a life-changing event that helps our community celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost and to fight back against the disease,” as stated on the ACS website.
Powelson, CAC organization members and the more than 430 participants expected during the 24 hours are excited to do their part, “coming together to show our Torero pride and go above and beyond for such a great cause.”
— Ryan T. Blystone