Relay For Life at Mac to hold virtual events due to provincial COVID guidelines

C/O McMaster Relay for Life

On March 27, 2021, McMaster’s annual Relay for Life event will run to help fundraise for the battle against cancer. The event will look very different from past years, but going virtual hasn’t discouraged the volunteers in their efforts to host yet another successful event.

On March 27, 2021, McMaster’s annual Relay for Life event will run to help fundraise for the battle against cancer. The event will look very different from past years, but going virtual hasn’t discouraged the volunteers in their efforts to host yet another successful event. 

During the 2019-2020 school year, Relay for Life managed to raise well over $100,000 in donations. In 2021, the bar has been set to match the previous goal of $100,000. As of publication, the goal has already been 13 per cent fulfilled despite the events having not yet started.

In a typical school year, students can expect to find a one-day event at the David Braley Athletic Centre gyms where Relay for Life hosts athletics competitions, a luminaire event and other awareness/fundraising activities. This year, Relay will have a week full of activities leading up to their event day, which will still include several festivities such as escape rooms, guest speakers and more. 

“We have some mystery speakers that still have yet to be announced, but one of the ones that we have revealed is Bruce Buffer from the UFC,” said Diana Aviles, one of the event coordinators.

“We have some mystery speakers that still have yet to be announced, but one of the ones that we have revealed is Bruce Buffer from the UFC.”

Diana Aviles 

Another annual event that many look forward to is the luminary ceremony. Aviles spoke highly about this event, referring to it as one of her favourite moments. 

“The [luminary] event is a moment of unity, reflection and silence that goes on during the event . . . Every participant that comes to the event gets a baggie and it’s where you write why you relay. It’s an opportunity to honour loved ones, or really just share why you are taking part in the event and why it means something to you. Then you put a little candle in it and it lights it up. Usually, they’re put around the gym and you walk around while everyone commemorates everyone else’s loved ones. That is still happening this year,” said Aviles.

In 2021, the luminary ceremony will shape up differently than in past years, but it is still set to continue. This year instead of providing candles and bags, Relay for Life is recommending a piece of paper and a flashlight, which can offer a similar effect.

“You can put your flashlight up to it and still hold that meaningful moment of silence and the heartfelt part of the event. That’s tradition for the [Relay for Life], so it’s important that it comes back year after year,” said Aviles.

Cancer affects the lives of many, both directly and indirectly. Holding a moment of silence to commemorate those who have passed on has become a major event at the core of Relay for Life.

Cancer affects the lives of many, both directly and indirectly. Holding a moment of silence to commemorate those who have passed on has become a major event at the core of Relay for Life. 

Each year, many volunteers and participants come out to join the event in their attempt to help battle cancer. However, due to the pandemic, many have fallen on financial hardships and donating can become a difficult task for many. Fortunately, Mahnoor Akram, another event coordinator, spoke about the ways people can contribute without the need for monetary donations.

“We have volunteering opportunities that you can participate in . . . Volunteers basically help us and ensure that events are going to run properly on the day of. They work with our volunteer coordinator and test out the virtual events that our event coordinators have set up. That’s one opportunity to get involved. Another thing they can do is just advocacy — so reporting our stuff on their stories, or coming to our events or helping gain more awareness on cancer initiatives,” said Akram.

One awareness event currently in motion mentioned by Akram was Colour of the Month. Different types of cancer are associated with different colours and each month contributors wear the colour of a given type of cancer and post pictures of themselves to aid in raising awareness. In March, burgundy should be worn, representing multiple myeloma.

“Advocacy is really difficult right now, especially online and it can be hard to get the word out sometimes . . . Hopefully one day we won’t have to relay for a cure because we are celebrating that we found a cure. I’m really hoping for that day to happen really soon so we can hopefully beat cancer together,” said Akram.

“Advocacy is really difficult right now, especially online and it can be hard to get the word out sometimes . . . Hopefully one day we won’t have to relay for a cure because we are celebrating that we found a cure. I’m really hoping for that day to happen really soon so we can hopefully beat cancer together.”

Mahnoor Akram

A cure for cancer might still be a long way away, but it will never end if the relay never starts.

For more details, visit the McMaster Relay For Life website.

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