Marist High School held its fifth annual Relay for Life benefiting the American Cancer Society on Friday, March 4. More than 300 students participated and raised more than $46,000.
A student committee worked on the all-night event since the fall, planning fundraisers, educational events, and more. The night itself featured student and adult speakers, cancer survivors, and a memorial for those who have lost their battle against cancer. Students signed up for the event as teams, and at least one member of each team must walk the track all night. To keep energy high through the night, many fun activities were planned, including laser tag, performances by two bands, a photo booth, inflatable obstacle courses, athletic games, and more.
Many of the students who participate have known a close family member or friend diagnosed with cancer. This year’s keynote speaker was sophomore Henry Keller who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in the left tibia, but has been off chemotherapy and in remission since April of 2013. Keller said he was honored to be the speaker, and shared the story of his journey with the audience. “I stayed positive and kept a sense of humor,” he says of how he battled cancer. Today, he is an active 15 year old, and is a member of Marist’s band, ultimate Frisbee team, and bass fishing team.
“The students make this event a personal mission to help eradicate cancer,” said Colleen Pochyly, a Marist campus minister who co-moderated the event. “Every family has a cancer story and this event helps to give our students back some of the power and control that cancer takes from their lives.”
In just five years, Marist has raised nearly $250,000 through this event. Marist is also the only Catholic school in Illinois to host its own Relay for Life. “Relay is not only a good time, but we support a great cause with our friends and family,” explained Justin Tringl ’16.
Relay is not the only event at Marist that benefits cancer research. The campus ministry office coordinates “Think Pink” every other fall benefiting the Cancer Center at Little Company of Mary Hospital and participates in Bald for St. Brigid, which helps fund pediatric cancer research through CureSearch.