The Relay for Life held Feb. 10 fundraised $7,000 for the American Cancer Society.
Those who have survived the battle with cancer, and those who have died fighting were honored with the annual charity event, hosted by Colleges Against Cancer (CAC).
“Relay For Life is an event put on by (CAC) to fundraise money for the American Cancer Society,” said Relay for Life and CAC organizer Darcy Leischner.
This annual event welcomes cancer survivors, their caregivers and everyone else in the local Clay County and Vermillion area to participate in the day’s events.
Ceremonies for the event began with the singing of the national anthem, and then University of South Dakota student Ashley Gordon shared the story of her battle with ovarian cancer.
“Cancer sucks,” Gordon said. “When something bad happens to you, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you or let it strengthen you. I decided I would not let my fear and anger get the best of me. I was going to tough it out through chemotherapy and come out a stronger person.”
Cancer survivors were able to take a “survivor lap” around the track signifying their battle and triumph over cancer. The lap was followed by continuous walking, with the track symbolizing the ongoing struggle for those who have been diagnosed and are battling cancer.
“Throughout the day we sold luminary bags, that could be decorated for those that have died or have been diagnosed with cancer,” Leischner said. “Then we had a luminary lap with the bags surrounding the track.”
Throughout the event, all in attendance were offered a variety of entertainment, including a DJ who played music while attendees walked around the track and ate snacks. Prizes were also offered.
Attendence to the event was low in comparison to previous years.
Bob and Natalie Johnson of Vermillion, both survivors of cancer, attended this year’s event and blamed the lack of attendance to weather.
“We have been coming to the event for the past eight years,” said Natalie Johnson, who had a photograph of a quilt of the shirts she has collected from past events.”
“There are usually more survivors that walk around the track,” she said.
According to the American Cancer Society, more than 1.2 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed this year, and about 600,000 will die. However, the death rate of cancer in the U.S. has fallen by 20 percent since its peak in 1991.