Cancer never sleeps, so more than 140 Arundel High School students decided that for one night, they were not going to sleep either.
The students participated in the 2011 Relay for Life of West Anne Arundel County on Friday and Saturday at Old Mill High School.
Relay for Life is held overnight to symbolize what a cancer patient goes through. It starts in early evening. The growing darkness represents the fear and uncertainty a cancer patient feels when they first receive a diagnosis. The night walk is symbolic of their treatment period. Participants become fatigued; they may just want to give up. The rising sun symbolizes the end of treatment and a growing hope for the future.
This year was particularly symbolic for Arundel students because of the presence of . Quinn is an Arundel freshman who was diagnosed with a brain tumor one year ago.
Her friend, Sarah Sinnott, started a team called Courage for Courtney, in honor of Quinn. It is the largest of the Arundel teams, with 21 people participating. The team is made up of Quinn and her friends. Most team members have known her since kindergarten, said Sinnott. One team member attends Archbishop Spaulding and two others attend South River High School, but the rest are from Arundel.
Courage for Courtney raised more than $7,000, Sinnott said. She personally raised $1,800.
This year Arundel fielded 14 teams, whose combined fundraising total is approximately $16,000. Arundel students' and teachers' family members also joined the Arundel teams.
Event organizers could take up to two weeks to come up with an exact total and announce the fundraising winner, said Mike Yuscavage, an Arundel teacher and Key Club advisor who coordinated the school’s participation.
Yuscavage was aided by Taylor Nolan, an Arundel senior and a top Arundel fund raiser. She raised more than $1,000. Nolan has a personal connection to the relay–her uncle died from cancer.
“An event like this is a lot more fun and touching when you have a connection,” she said.
Nolan is a member of West County Relay for Life Planning Committee. Fellow students, Matt Shin and Matt Kerrigan, also are members of the Planning Committee. Shin and Kerrigan were in charge of the event’s Facebook site and planning games to entertain children.
One team member must walk the course at all times, but the other team members may participate in various events held throughout the night. “The program is set up so some of the wildest things happen at 2 or 3 a.m.,” Yuscavage said.
This year, during that time, participants were able to rent water guns filled with ice cold water to squirt others who appeared to be sleepy. Money from the rentals was contributed to the American Cancer Society. Other events included dodge ball, karaoke, or water balloon tosses.
“Relay is a tough sell, everyone is under the impression that you run all night,” Yuscavage said. “It is so much fun, but I don’t think people get it until they participate,” he said.