Mid-Missouri Relay for Life events kick off Friday with MU

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COLUMBIA — Students, parents and community members filed into the MizzouRec Friday night to participate in Relay for Life of Mizzou, a 12-hour event where teams walk to bring awareness to cancer. 

The American Cancer Society estimates 2017 will bring more than 1.6 million new cancer cases in the United States. Relay for Life is an annual event put on by the American Cancer Society through volunteers in more than 5,200 communities and 27 countries, according to its website

Relay for Life of Mizzou goes from 6 p.m. Friday night to 6 a.m. Saturday morning as teams stay up all night to support those affected by cancer in the MU community. 

Clare Lammert is a community manager for the American Cancer Society and helps put on five Relay for Life events in Mid-Missouri, including the relay at MU. She helps volunteers who organize the events get everything they need, and she said the student organizers are well prepared. The event moved inside MizzouRec this year after it took place on MU's Carnahan Quadrangle last year.

"I think they’ve really set themselves up for a great event this year at Mizzou," Lammert said. "Being inside we expect that people will stay longer. The organizers have done a lot of great things this year in getting prepared and creating a greater event for the participants."

Lammert worked as a Relay for Life organizer when she was a student at St. Louis University because of her experience losing a loved one to cancer.  

"Unfortunately, we all know someone who has been touched by cancer, and this event is just really impactful, and I know that everyone here knows what I’ve been through with losing a loved one to cancer and it’s just been a passion of mine since then," Lammert said.

Relay for Life events have eight different stages including the opening ceremony followed by the "survivor lap" where present cancer survivors take the first lap around the track. 

"I can expect to tear up during the survivor walk, and probably cry during the Luminaria ceremony," Co-Director of Relay for Life of Mizzou Brooklynn White said. 

During the Luminaria ceremony, candles are lit inside paper bags that symbolize those lost to cancer. 

Allison Dameron, another Co-Director for the event, has been involved with Relay for Life since she was in elementary school. She said her passion to evoke change has driven her to participate and gain leadership roles in Relay for Life. 

"I’ve seen so many people go through cancer, and it’s the hardest thing seeing someone you love get torn down and have their whole life change," Dameron said. "I really want to put an end to that and work to make sure everyone is getting their fair chance at life and be able to experience life to the fullest."

White said Relay for Life is an important event to have at MU every year because there are many students affected by cancer in the MU community.

"I think it’s really important to make our survivors here on campus feel empowered because it may seem kind of rare for kids our age to be diagnosed with cancer, and this event is a good reminder that we’re here for those people and that we love them and that they know that we’re fighting this battle along with them," White said.

Dameron echoed White in how the event can bring so many together unexpectedly at such a large university. 

"It’s an amazing event because at such a large university, to know that you’re not alone and multiple people are going through the same battles and to know that the whole campus is supporting you is amazing to see," she said.

Relay for Life of Mizzou is the first of many relay events that will take place around Mid-Missouri in the coming weeks and months. Relay for Life of Centralia takes place at Centralia High School on Saturday, and Relay for Life of Cooper County is next Friday. Relay for Life of Boone County at Hickman High School in Columbia is on June 10. Click here to learn for information about getting invovled