College students today are the first generation of adults who can find a cure for cancer within their own lifetimes, and this is a personal goal for many of the participants in the up-and-coming 3rd annual Relay For Life event at CSUN.
“My personal goal if that happens is that my children will think of cancer as they think of polio now,” said Amanda Dekermenji, co-chair for Relay For Life and an executive board member of Colleges Against Cancer (CAC).
Relay For Life, held annually by CAC, will begin on April 17 at 9 a.m. and will end on April 18 at 9 p.m. The event will honor current cancer survivors, remember those who have died and raise money for cancer research, Dekermenji said.
The relay, which lasts for 24-hours, will include a walk around the Oviatt Library, entertainment, ceremonies and camping out on the Oviatt Lawn.
“If you’re standing closer to Oviatt, it’s like a sea of tents,” Dekermenji said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Dekermenji, a junior majoring in accounting, said cancer survivors will walk the first lap, and that although it is not required to camp out, it is encouraged.
“As much as we fight against cancer and raise awareness at the event, we also have so much fun,” Dekermenji added.
This year marks Dekermenji’s second relay at CSUN. She has been motivated to participate because her father is currently fighting cancer and her sister is a two-time cancer survivor.
“We think survivors are so important,” Dekermenji said. “They give hope to people who hear the C-Word.”
Dara Fineman, Relay For Life co-chair in charge of Growth, was motivated and inspired to help the cause because her entire family has, in one way or another, been affected by cancer.
“Even before I realized cancer touched my life, it had,” Fineman said. “I was thankful to the American Cancer Society for saving my mother, grandfather and granny and giving me more time with my loving family.”
Fineman said the relay’s mantra is to celebrate, remember and fight back against cancer. These also happen to be the three different ceremonies that go on throughout the day.
“With Relay For Life, the difference you make is tangible,” Fineman said. “You meet the people you are helping.”
Students can help contribute to the cause by forming a team, which costs $150. If the students don’t have that kind of money a small donation or an increased awareness about cancer also helps, Fineman said.
“Any amount makes a difference, there is no amount too small,” Fineman added.
The main goal for Relay For Life this year is to increase growth, Fineman said. For the past two years, the event raised $22,000 and Fineman said she wants to increase that number.
“We are hoping for about 500 people to come,” Fineman added. “Cancer knows no race, religion or class. It does not care, so neither do we. We welcome everyone.”
Daniela Ruvalcaba, entertainment co-chair said that the relay is a 24-hour party with a cause, and everyone from the community is more than welcome to come.
“It’s the analogy that cancer never sleeps, so we can afford to do this for 24 hours,” said Ruvalcaba.
Some bands performing at the event include Vinyl Soul, and The Darlings, who have been on The Vans Warped Tour, Ruvalcaba said.
There will also be performances from various CSUN music clubs and groups, and there will also be comedians.
“It’s food, fun and entertainment,” Ruvalcaba said. “(And) it all goes to the American Cancer Society.”