Penn community walks all night to fight cancer

Relay for Life 2009

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), more than a half million Americans died last year from cancer. They were mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, sisters and brothers, adults, adolescents and children.

Because cancer never sleeps, a group of Penn cancer survivors and their supporters will stay up all night this Friday to fight back against the disease.

Relay for Life, a fundraiser sponsored by the ACS, kicks off on March 26 at 8 p.m. at Franklin Field and runs through 8 a.m. on Saturday, March 27. The all-night walk raises money for cancer research.

Shannon Ridge, a junior bioengineering major and the survivorship chair, says last year’s event raised more than $140,000 for cancer research. This year’s goal is $180,000. Relay for Life will also include contests, performances and food.

The fundraiser begins with an opening ceremony from 8 to 9 p.m., followed by symbolic laps around Franklin Field. Performances start at 9 p.m. and ceremonies start at 11 p.m.

Ridge says several members of the event’s planning committee are cancer survivors or people who have close family members affected by the disease.

“Throughout the night, there are performers and games and different entertainment,” Ridge says. “We’re having an hour of ’80s music and then an hour of ’90s music. There are various fundraisers going on during the event as well.”

Organizers held spin-off fundraisers in the weeks leading up to Friday night’s event, such as a battle of the bands at a local bar. “I think we made $1,500 off it,” Ridge says. “That’s going to the overall fundraising goal.”

Those interested in donating to the cause can do so at www.relayatpenn.org or at the Friday night event. Admission to the event is $10; free for cancer survivors.

Originally published on March 23, 2010