Correction appended: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the amount of money Relay for Life exceeded its goal by. It also incorrectly stated the amount of money Phi Gamma Delta fraternity raised.
For a 24-hour period this weekend, Palmer Field was transformed into a campground. The campers had no intention of resting around a campfire, but were instead gathered to defeat cancer.
Students, local residents and cancer survivors on Palmer Field this weekend were part of this year’s Relay for Life at the University, which started at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning and ended at the same time yesterday. The organization raised more than $321,000 to donate to the American Cancer Society, exceeding its goal by about $40,000. This year’s donations were the most Relay for Life at the University had ever raised, surpassing last year’s total of about $268,400
The event kicked off with a mix of runners and walkers who participated in the first lap called the Survivor Lap, which honors and celebrates individuals who have beaten cancer.
LSA senior Joey Eisman, a Relay for Life co-chair, has participated in the event since his freshman year and said his involvement in the organization, like many other participants, stemmed from knowing someone who battled cancer. He said he was inspired to get involved after a close friend with non-Hodgkin lymphoma died one month before Eisman participated in Relay for Life for the first time.
“Having the actual experience where my friend passed away really enhanced my feeling of need to this organization,” Eisman said. “That’s why I relay.”
Stories similar to Eisman’s were told throughout the field and were exemplified through Luminaria, a tradition that occurs at Relay for Life events across the country. The nighttime ceremony features paper bags that line the track in commemoration of cancer victims.
LSA sophomore Sam Lewis said he has participated in the event for seven years. This year, Lewis served as a team recruitment co-chair.
“The purpose is to fundraise for cancer research, for advocacy efforts, for education and awareness,” Lewis said.
The team that raised the most was the University’s Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, raising more than $37,000, according to the Relay for Life website. The Kappa Kappa Gamma and Alpha Epsilon Pi team raised the second highest amount of donations — with a total sum of almost $18,900. There were 182 teams, comprising 3,246 people, participating in this year’s event.
As people ran and walked around the track, entertainment was also provided on the field, including a show by the University comedy troupe ComCo and another by Michigan football players.
Michigan State University will have its Relay for Life event this weekend. As of Sunday afternoon the university had 91 registered teams and raised more than $84,000.