The Health Occupation Student Association (HOSA) recently created a team for the Asheville Relay for Life walk on Apr 29.
The Relay for Life event is a fundraiser that draws awareness to cancer and how those affected deal with the disease day in and day out.
About 32 years ago, Dr. Gordy Clatt in Tacoma, Washington, wanted to increase awareness to the fact that cancer patients have to deal with the disease during all hours of the day. He decided to create an event aimed at increasing this awareness, which is now known as the Relay for Life.
“There were a lot of people that were like ‘we would like to fundraise but we do not necessarily want to run’ and Dr. Clatt was then the instigator of the relay,” said Asheville Relay for Life community manager Caroline Wheless.
This year, the relay will take place at the Carolina Day School Athletic complex off of Sweeten Creek Road. The event will provide accommodations for cancer patients so that they can attend as well.
Sophomore Camille Jenkerson is familiar with Relay for Life because she was involved in the relay and its organization while her father was undergoing a battle with cancer, ultimately passing away as a result of the disease in 2014.
“It is a very good organization for people who have cancer and also for raising money for cancer research that goes to finding a cure and finding different ways to treat cancer,” Jenkerson said.
The organization has helped many people in the community of Buncombe County cope with cancer’s effects, ranging from the emotional aspect to the physical and medical aspect of the disease as well.
“We did a race in honor of my dad, and it meant a lot to my family. It was really good to see the entire community come together to support and help cancer patients as well as survivors,” Jenkerson said.
HOSA’s team is raising money for the foundation through selling luminaria, which are paper bag lanterns. The club decided to get involved in the relay because of their emphasis as a club on health and wellness.
“Relay for Life raises awareness for not only cancer treatment, but really for cancer provisions. HOSA is about health and wellness, as well as leadership,” adviser Amy Dyer said.
HOSA plans on donating money to the American Cancer Foundation online. To become a team, they had to sign up and communicate with Wheless.
Each Relay for Life walk features a luminaria ceremony. The American Cancer Society does this to memorialize people who have lost their lives to cancer and honor those who are survivors. The ceremony also brings support to those who are currently battling the disease.
According to Wheless, walks take place all over the nation with at least one per state. Buncombe County has been chosen as a site for the relay because of its accessibility and central location in the western part of the state. Wheless believes that it is a great way for the community to come together to support both cancer patients and survivors.
“The whole purpose of the relay is twofold: it is to raise money and awareness, but also to cheer on people who are going through a battle with cancer, and celebrate people who have overcome cancer,” Wheless said.
The money raised is utilized internationally by the American Cancer Society to provide services for cancer patients. One of the programs that is sponsored is “Look Good Feel Better.” This organization helps women and men who have lost their hair as a result of their cancer treatment.
“We think about trying to end cancer for future generations, how we can end cancer for your generation or for my generation. We also try to look at the big picture so [cancer] is not here in 10 or 20 years,” Wheless said.