By Reland Tuomi, News Writer

In the late afternoon sunlight, a stage was set up near Red Square, students pitched tents in the grass and cancer survivors donned purple T-shirts.

Relay for Life began last Friday evening with hundreds of people coming together to raise awareness about cancer and funds for cancer research.

A contest had been held for Relay participants to see which of them could raise the most money, and the winners were announced at closing ceremonies on Saturday.

Junior Rachel Samardich and her boyfriend Josh Aten participated in this year's Relay for Life to honor family members who had survived cancer.
Junior Rachel Samardich and her boyfriend Josh Aten participated in this year’s Relay for Life to honor family members who had survived cancer.

Before then, participants set up a volleyball net, threw a Frisbee around and raised their tents.

“The tent is here if I need it,” sophomore Anne-Marie Falloria, a Hinderongerlie team member, said. “Or if anyone else wants to take a nap on the field.”

Eager participants lined up at the starting line — an arch made out of purple and white balloons. Before all participants could begin, the cancer survivors attending the event took a lap together.

This handful of individuals walked around the square of grass bordered by Xavier Hall, the Hauge Admininstration Building, Hong Hall and Eastvold.

Once they had completed the lap, the survivors led the rest of the participants in another lap while Rusted Root’s “Send Me On My Way” played in the background.

At 10:00 p.m., the loud and hopping music took a brief recess for the Luminaria Ceremony, a Relay for Life tradition. Paper lanterns decorated by attendees lined the track with small tea lights inside them.

Johanna Muller, committee chairman, introduced cancer survivor Ryan Tevis. Tevis told his story about his diagnosis, radiation treatment and eventual cure of his cancer.

After Tevis’ story, Relay participants walked a silent lap in memoriam of those lost and those still fighting.

After a live, acoustic version of One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful,” the DJ came back with full force, as did the participants’ energy levels.

“[The Luminaria Ceremony] was really moving,” sophomore Ann Miller said. “Everyone has a new energy now, which is awesome.”

Community members and students walk the circuit to raise money for the American Cancer Society during Relay for Life.
Community members and students walk the circuit to raise money for the American Cancer Society during Relay for Life.

After many laps and performances throughout the night, including performances by HERmonic and PLUtonic, the closing ceremonies began at 11 a.m. after a brief concert by Point Pacific.

Closing ceremonies included expressing gratitude to everyone for coming, especially the survivors, and concluded with handing out rewards.

Junior Rachel Samardich, sophomore Mackenzie Deane and sophomore Jake Dacus won first, second and third place respectively for individual fundraising. 23 teams and 199 participants raised almost $20,000 from Pacific Lutheran University.

“It wouldn’t be [possible] if the students didn’t participate as well,” Deane, a committee member, said. “Maybe next year you can do it, too.”

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