By: Brianna Leary
March 28-29, 2014 marked the big event I’d helped plan for all year: UNC’s Relay for Life! Relay for Life is an annual fundraising event that benefits the American Cancer Society. The event usually takes place around a track at a football or soccer field. People create teams that fundraise all year long. The goal is to always have at least one team member walking around the track at all times during the twenty hour event, to symbolize the fact that cancer never sleeps. This year I’ve had the opportunity to serve on the Community Events committee for Relay. I had fun with my committee members pit-sitting, planning the 5k, and promoting Relay throughout the year, but nothing could compare to the actual event. One of the best parts was that I got to spend it with my sisters!
I showed up to the Eddie Smith field house on Friday a little disappointed. Due to the rainy weather, this year’s Relay for Life was moved inside. I’d heard that less people would come if it was held indoors, and that people would be less excited. My disappointment subsided when I ran into the girls from the Phi Beta Chi team walking around the track. Together we circled the indoor track, which was lined with paper bags for the luminary ceremony. The luminary ceremony is one of the most emotional and meaningful parts of Relay. Paper bags filled with candles (called luminaries) are lit around the track. Each luminary has the name of a person who has or has had cancer. When the luminaries are lit, teams walk silently around the track in memory of those who have lost their fights with cancer. This year I dedicated a luminary in honor of my best friend, Heather, who is a cancer survivor.
After the luminary ceremony, I expected most of my sisters to leave. It was nearly ten by then and many of them had plans for the next morning. Knowing that I was staying the full 20 hours, however, many of them stayed later to keep me company. We had so much fun! Caitlin competed in the burrito eating contest, Amy scored a free t-shirt in the frozen shirt competition, and we all took cute pictures in front of the Relay for Life letters. As the night progressed, some sisters had to leave, so it was just me, my big, Leah, and my fellow AM sister, Amy. We laid out on sleeping bags on our indoor campsite, chatting and snacking on candy as if we were at a sleepover. We walked around the track several more times before the girls left around 3am. The rest of the event consisted of performances, games, and free food. At the closing ceremony, the executive committee revealed that we had raised over $100,000 for the American Cancer Society! It was definitely a memorable night, and I can’t imagine any better way to spend it than by helping fight cancer with the best sisters around!
A blog written by active sisters for sisters, alumni, parents, and anyone else interested in Phi Beta Chi!