Fighting cancer–one step at a time

Skyline College will be holding its first ever Relay For Life during the weekend of May 15-16.  

The relay will fundraise for and support those who have been affected by cancer.

Beta Theta Omicron, Skyline’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, is the group spearheading the event.  Phi Theta Kappa is a national honor society for two-year colleges.

“I don’t think there is anyone who has not been touched by this disease, including [those] modifying diets to include cancer-preventing antioxidants,” said Christine Case, a biology professor at Skyline. “The relay is a fun and healthy way to fight the disease, remember loved ones, and celebrate life.”

Students or staff interested in participating in the upcoming Relay For Life need to sign up before the event, either online or in person with a race organizer.  The deadline for signups is May 1.  Registrations after this date will have to pay a required $25 fee.

The relay will take place in the track area of Skyline’s sports fields starting at 10 a.m. on May 15.

President Victoria Morrow and the mayor of San Bruno, Jim Ruane, will speak at the opening ceremony.

As people walk and run around the track course to honor and remember those impacted by cancer, there will be a variety of support services and events surrounding the relay.  A disc jockey will provide background music, there will be free games to play, free food and there will be a possible movie screening.

The event is scheduled to take place over 24 hours from Saturday morning until 10 a.m. on Sunday.  Participants are encouraged to stay overnight although they are not required too-they can leave and come back at any time.

The official rules state that at least one member of each has to be on the track at all times but the organizers do not want anyone to feel intimidated or take the rules too seriously.

“This is a fun, community-based event,” said Matt Garza, one of the principle relay organizers.  “We’re not trying to police the event.”

round 8 p.m. on May 15 there will be a luminaria candle-lighting during which a moment of silence will be held for those who have had to face cancer.

“It [the luminaria] is largely symbolic,” Garza said.  “It gives individuals an opportunity to commemorate and honor those people they know who have had or have cancer.”

Breakfast will be served the morning of May 16 and then it will be time for the closing ceremony.  All participants will be thanked for their dedication and charitableness in supporting the relay.

Individuals are not required to raise any money for donation.  However, as an incentive to fundraise, a T-shirt will be given to everyone who raises $100 or more.  The money that is made through the relay will help fund programs that aim to eliminate cancer, as well as for research and equipment

“Since the first relay in 1985, researchers have cloned tumor-suppresser genes,” Case said.  “Taxol and herceptin, the most successful chemotherapy agents against ovarian and breast cancer, were developed. The role of fruits and vegetables in preventing cancer was discovered. Angiostatins to prevent tumor growth were developed and the breast cancer genes (BRCA) were discovered. And last October, a Nobel Prize was awarded for the discovery of telomerase–the enzyme that makes cancer cells immortal. Cancer incidence and deaths began to decline for the first time in 1998.”

Money to fund such discoveries is critical and much-needed.  Events like Relay for Life are an important part of how scientists have made many breakthroughs in cancer research over the past few decades.

Organizing this event, one of many that take place internationally every year, requires a lot of hard work and dedication from volunteers.  The planning committee hopes that Skyline and the surrounding community will come together and join forces to strike back at cancer.

“Personally, I want the Skyline community to open up to these type of opportunities which bring positive change and new activities,” said Kelnia Moroney, the event chair for Relay For Life of Skyline College.  “Overall, it brings the community closer.”

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For more information on the relay, including how to register for the event, go to www.relayforlife.org/skylinecollegeca