Nearly 750 students participated in Relay for Life on Friday night into Saturday morning, walking the indoor track at the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion.
The 12-hour event exceeded its fundraising goals the event, donating $151,319 to the American Cancer Society, according to Marina Affi, who served on the Fundraising/Logistics Committee for the event. The amount exceeded the $130,000 goal set for this year.
Totals could increase, she said, as fundraising for 2012 continues through August.
Opening ceremony speakers included NU Football Coach Pat Fitzgerald and Jonny Imerman, founder of cancer-support group Imerman Angels, who pumped up the crowd before the first lap.
While Relay is a 12-hour event, the first lap is reserved solely for survivors or those walking in proxy of a survivor.
Among those walking the first lap was Weinberg senior Janelle Myers.
Myers was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at 17, just before her senior year in high school. After numerous surgeries and chemotherapy, she is “four and a half years out,” but still involved with cancer research fundraising and awareness.
She began her involvement with Relay for Life the summer after high school graduation. She continued her participation at Northwestern, where she is studying chemistry and in the Integrated Science Program. Now as a senior, she served on Northwestern’s Survivorship Committee for Relay.
“It’s a really fun event,” she said. “You think of cancer events and research, and it’s all really depressing. That’s not what this is about….It’s about celebrating life.”
Her short-cropped hair is a souvenir of her most recent display of cancer research support. Earlier this year she shaved her head for St. Baldrick’s, which benefits children’s cancer research.
“I’ve wanted to do it since I was in treatment,” she said. “When I lost my hair the first time I hated it, it was such a symbol of everything I was going through.”
Now healthy, Myers said she was eager to donate for the cause. “I love it this time, I am such a fan of my short hair.”
Myers said she stays involved with the cancer community after realizing how important friends and family were during her diagnosis.
“Having the support network is so important, and if I can be that for someone else, they don’t have to do it alone.”