Relay for Life: Take a lap to beat cancer

Mike Klarin

Northern Michigan University’s Relay for Life committee will host its eleventh annual Relay for Life kickoff on Monday, Nov. 17. Students and members of the community from all walks of life attend each year to participate in the fight of cancer. For some, the motivation to run is deeply personal.

Senior nursing major Rosemary Magidsohn is the co-chair of NMU’s Relay for Life committee and has been active in the organization for four years.

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“When I joined the committee back in 2011, my grandma and aunt were battling cancer,” Magidsohn said. “In total, I have had six family members battle cancer. They are my inspiration to relay and they motivate me to continue working hard within this organization.”

Carl Fulsher is a 1992 graduate of NMU and currently serves as a relay specialist for the American Cancer Society. Fulsher has been part of NMU’s Relay for Life program since 2005 and said NMU is the only school in the Midwest with a 24-hour relay event.

“The energy and atmosphere are unlike any relay I have been a part of,” Fulsher said. “Over 1,000 people pack the gym for an amazing experience that you will remember forever.”

The Relay for Life event began in 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt ran and walked for 24 hours at a track in Tacoma, Wash.

When he had finished, Klatt had raised $27,000 to benefit the American Cancer Society. Since that first monumental race, Relay for Life has grown into a worldwide event and has raised almost $5 billion to benefit cancer research, according to the American Cancer Society.

“I think the ultimate goal is to bring awareness,” Magidsohn said. “Yes, the goal of Relay is to raise money, but fighting cancer is more than what money can provide, it’s the support, awareness and energy needed to truly end cancer. Relay provides that support, awareness and energy to finish the fight.”

Senior public relations major Rachel Eckert has been involved with Relay for Life for three years, though this will be her first year on the committee.

“The purpose of the kickoff is to get people signed up on teams for next semester’s relay event, raise funds and just get people involved,” Eckert said.

Last year at NMU, the theme of the event was “super heroes” and participants dressed up as their favorite character.

Thirty teams signed up at the kick-off and raised $26,117, Eckert said.

The goal for this year is to sign up 40 teams and raise $28,000. Magidsohn said there is no fee to register a team, though she asks that everyone who registers raises at least $10 per person. She also said 100 percent of the proceeds raised will go towards the American Cancer Society.

Magidsohn said she has already seen the benefits first-hand of her work and the work of everyone who participates.

“One of my aunts who is a survivor of breast cancer was able to attend classes provided by the ACS in which she was able to receive support, learn how to wear a head wrap and wig, and learn more about caring for herself during her time with cancer,” Magidsohn said. “It made me feel that what I am doing matters.”

The kick-off on will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, Nov. 17 in Room 109 of the Learning Resources Center. Light refreshments will be served and the theme of next spring’s relay will be released.