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Relay looks for more support


Cancer doesn’t sleep…

so neither did Northtown students on the night of May 4.

Relay For Life is an annual event that Northtown has participated in for the last 12 to 13 years. This year it was held at Oak Park. Students from multiple high schools gathered together for 12 hours, grouped into teams of 8-15 people. At all times, one student had to walk around the track. Meanwhile, there were activities available for other students to participate in.

The relay is intended to make students understand what it’s like for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Walkers start their journey feeling fine. As the night lengthens, they slowly get tired. By dawn, they’re exhausted, but the rising sun promises rest and hope.

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The event works as a fund-raiser that benefits the American Cancer Society. The society uses the money for things like research, hospice funds, and providing boarding for patients.

Students participate by gathering a team and raising $100. Sometimes they run into difficulty raising funds, which preferably come from other people.

“I’m not raking in the cash,” said senior Jimmy Pham. “I’m using spare change.”

On May 4, students gathered on the Oak Park track.

When senior Jimmy Pham arrived, the scene was already lively. He could hear announcers speaking while excited students listened. Senior Nancy Thai also noted the games and activities set up to entertain students through the long night.

Students estimated that around 300-400 students attended, who were “motivated people there to represent their cause,” according to senior Sara Wegenka.

All three agreed that the atmosphere was positive and energetic, with Pham adding, “Humid.”

The seniors all had their reasons for doing relay this year.

“To help benefit those in need of a cure,” Wegenka said. “Everyone has been touched by cancer in some way.”

Pham explained, “I wanted to do Relay for Life, but I had no group to do it with and my friends were doing it, so I joined them.”

Thai’s friends also helped her make her decision. She said, “I did it freshman year and though it was fun hanging with my friends overnight.”

They encouraged students to do Relay next year, stressing how fun it was and that if was for a good cause.

“It’s a great thing to experience during your high school year,” Pham said.

Time with friends and activities were the highlights for all of them, although Thai also enjoyed “free stuff”.

However, Relay does have its bad points, mostly based on its time. Thai mentioned her troubles staying up all night, while Pham didn’t like having to go to work in the morning after staying at the track until two.

Wegenka had a different complaint.

“I hate outdoor stuff with tents, and it reminded me of camping,” she said. “It was humid, and I hate bugs.”

Despite the late hour and the bugs, Relay is still recommended.

“It’s for a good cause,” teacher and event sponsor Randy Jackson said, encouraging students to participate next year. “It’s a chance to work toward a cure before you face cancer yourself.”

Senior Jessica Dao was the student head of Relay For Life this year. Her job was to organize forms, attend meetings, and “tend to whatever is needed to make this year’s Relay For Life event a successful and fun one.”

She has participated in the event for two years now.

“It hit me that I could make a difference for the battle of cancer,” she explained. “Being able to lead our school with Relay For Life is my way of giving back to the fight.”

Although the event was advertised throughout Northtown, Dao and her fellow Relay leaders had difficulty recruiting students.

“It definitely is hard to get people to join,” Dao said. “Sometimes I feel like nobody cares. As bad as that sounds, Relay has been dwindling slowly. I am trying to revive the dream by trying to get as many people to join as possible or donate as much as possible.”

The Oak Park committee, as the host school this year, was very enthusiastic and “gung ho” about the Relay. They also had the most students participating

Unfortunately, the Relay wasn’t as successful from Northtown’s point of view.

“I feel that it isn’t that successful because our school is always trying to find people to donate. It is getting overused and people are quite frankly getting tired of it,” Dao said.

Relay also might have lost popularity because of students’ other priorities.

“I have a lot going on right now,” said senior Derek Fulbright, echoing many students at this time of the year. Relay’s date doesn’t help when trying to enlist participants.

Next year, Jackson hopes to increase the number of teams participating and to raise more money.

Dao encouraged students to show more interest in Relay.

“Cancer sucks,” she said, “and we can put a stop to it if we all come together and fight this battle together.”


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