Mizzou Relay for Life raises $90,000 to fight cancer

The event's participants raised almost 50 percent more than last year's record high.
Tyrell, 9, checks on the luminaria bag he ordered for his grandmother Saturday at Relay for Life in the Student Recreation Complex. The relay raised more than $90,000 for the American Cancer Society.

Hundreds of students and Columbia residents filled the Student Recreation Complex on Saturday night for MU’s annual Relay for Life event.

According to the Mizzou Relay’s Twitter profile, this year’s event raised more than $90,000, almost 50 percent more than last year’s record-high total of $63,099.20.

Teams purchased booths and sold, raffled and auctioned off everything from shirts to bracelets to custom-decorated bras to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

A few students rented out a Winnie-the-Pooh costume for $20 an hour to raise funds.

Freshman Brian Reitz said he came to the event because a few of his friends were making a team.

“A lot of my friends are doing it, and although it doesn’t mean as much to me as it does to them, I thought coming out to support cancer research would be beneficial to many people,” Reitz said. “I raised money by sending emails to my friends and family and our team raised over $1,000.”

Like many other fraternities and sororities, the Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority formed a team for the event. Theta’s team, Kites For a Cure, sold kite cookies for 50 cents each and walked to raise money.

Kites For a Cure team captain Kirsten Moen said many of the members were involved in Relay for Life during high school.

“Theta didn’t have team, so I talked to Kate Bohnert, who was a Theta and a Relay for Life Committee Member,” Moen said. “We joined late, but the point is we joined.”

The Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity charged $2 for the opportunity to “pie a rho,” in order to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity member Matt Eisenbath said even though the fraternity didn’t buy a booth, they figured they could still come to raise money.

“We threw the team together to show support just because it’s the right thing to do,” Eisenbath said. “We did the pie toss, because people tend to like to take their anger out on other people with pies, so that was really easy to sell.”

At about 9 p.m., the lights were dimmed and participants were called over to one corner of the gym for the Luminaria.

During the ceremony, participants listened to the testimonies of local cancer survivors. Then attention turned to a projector screen, where the names of local people who have died of cancer or are currently fighting the disease were displayed.

Following the presentation of the names, candles were lit inside white paper bags around the track as participants continued to walk for the remainder of the night.

Freshman Will Heckman-Mark, who donated $50 of his own money to the event, said he had a personal connection to the fight against cancer.

“I came here because I have a couple relatives who lost the battle with cancer, so I wanted to come out to support the cause,” Heckman-Mark said. “My family and I were happy to donate.”

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