One in three. One-third. Thirty-three percent. According to the American Cancer Society, one in three people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Cancer affects pretty much everyone, whether directly or indirectly.
Because of these statistics, organizations like the American Cancer Society have been formed to raise money in the fight against cancer. One such fundraiser that raises money for cancer research is Relay for Life.
Started in 1985 by a colorectal surgeon, Relay for Life is a “tailgate party where teams set up tents according to a theme and come out together to celebrate survivors, fight back against cancer, and remember.” That’s how Cheri Hodges, an adjunct professor in the mathematics department, and also a cancer survivor, described Relay.
“It’s a lot of fun. It really brings a lot of unity in the fight against cancer,” Hodges added.
Although Hodges is this year’s chair of Relay for Life of Hinds County, she is not the only one representing Mississippi College.
The Kinesiology Student Association (KSA) and the Physical Therapy/Occupational Therapy Student Association (PT/OT) sponsor a team of MC students.
Dr. Carol Barnes, now in her thirty-first year at MC, explained that “in the Kinesiology Department, we are all about sponsoring organizations that we feel really make a difference in the status of someone’s health to improve quality of life. We try to get involved in community service activities that pertain to those sort of things.”
Barnes continued, “The problem today in our society is that we’re focusing much more on fixing problems when they occur when it comes to the medical field, while what we need to do is focus more on preventing these problems in the first place. We need to put more money towards cancer research and help prevention research so that we can help people understand how important it is to live a healthy life every day so that you don’t end up with cancer.”
The event centers around teams walking around a track all night long. Hodges explained, “This action correlates with the fact that the search to find a cure for cancer never sleeps.”
In addition to tailgating, walking the track, and entertainment, there is a luminaria ceremony where all the lights are turned off and candles are lit inside of paper bags to honor and remember those who have been in the fight against cancer.
While the next Relay for Life doesn’t take place until the spring, it is important to raise awareness now. Barnes said, “Every year, the members of KSA and PT/OT pull together and start raising money and awareness before Christmas break. Teams begin forming in the fall in order to raise the most money possible.”
Hodges emphasized,“The more teams we have, the more energy is brought to the event. It’s a lot more fun, and we have more people contributing to the cause.”
Both Hodges and Barnes highlight the importance of getting involved. Hodges wants everyone to know that “you can make a difference in the fight against cancer. When everyone works together, big things can happen.”
Barnes also stressed the need, saying, “Every dollar you can spend to help fund the American Cancer Society is a dollar well spent. It could be that one dollar that helps us literally find a cure and save millions of lives.”
The 2020 Hinds County Relay for Life will take place on April 25, 2020, from 4-10 p.m. Other close Relays will be in Brookhaven and Madison. The kickoff for the 2020 Relay for Life will be on Oct. 28, 2019, at the Hope Lodge in Jackson. In order to form a team or join a team, go to relayforlife.org/hindsms or contact Cheri Hodges at email@example.com.