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Why Relay?

By Bethany Erickson

Photos by Samantha Glover and Lauren Sustad

Marissa Blair relays for a cure.
Marissa Blair relays for a cure.

Cancer can be one of the scariest things a person can go through in their life.  The search for cures is a seemingly never ending process that is being pursued by scientists and doctors everywhere—so what can other people do to help? That’s where Relay for Life steps in. One can give money or goods to any charity, benefiting it greatly, but if they would like to feel physically involved in the process, they can participate in a Relay for Life event.

Relay for Life is an organization that focuses on raising money to help support the American Cancer Society in the search for cures.  Many of the people on Bemidji State University’s Relay for Life committee have a personal reason for joining the fight.

Sophomore Shannon Combs relays because she does not want anyone’s loved one to hear the words, ‘you have cancer.’  Nine years ago, Combs’ grandma lost the battle against lung cancer.  When Combs came to Bemidji State University, she found Relay for Life and joined the fight against cancer and the search for cures.

Shannon Combs relays for her grandmother.
Shannon Combs relays for her grandmother.

Sophomore Alina Vongkhamdy also has a personal reason for why she relays.  One year ago, Vongkhamdy’s father passed away due to lung cancer.  A year before that, her uncle had passed away from cancer also. “I want to make a difference in other people’s lives so they don’t have to go through what I have been through,” Vongkhamdy said.

Once a year, Bemidji State University’s Relay for Life organization hosts a Relay which features music, activities, food, and fun. This year is Disney themed and the Relay will be held in the Gillett Recreation-Fitness Center on February 13th beginning at 6 p.m. and continuing throughout the night.

To create a relay group, you can sign up with the Relay for Life organization on campus.  To become part of the team, you can email their community manager Denae Alamano at denae.alamano@cancer.org or co-presidents Shannon Combs, Alina Vongkhamdy, or Marissa Blair using the standard Bemidji State email addresses.

All of the funds raised by the event will go directly to the American Cancer Society.  To join Relay for Life in the fight against cancer, you can attend the organization’s meetings, which are held one to two times a month at varying times.

Alina Vongkhamdy relays for her dad and for her uncle.
Alina Vongkhamdy relays for her dad and for her uncle.