Let’s Celebrate More Birthdays


Posted on March 26th, by Shelby Wilder in Shelby Wilder. No Comments

More than likely, someone in your life or someone you know has been affected by cancer.

In 2008, when I was just 10 years old, I lost my grandpa to cancer. When he passed away, my grandpa no longer looked like my grandpa. Cancer completely overtook him. This disease didn’t just destroy my grandpa, it destroyed my family too. Losing him at such a young age was hard for all of us. I never really understood what was going on. I realized he was sick, but I never thought that he could be here one day and gone the next. Since he passed away so young, he never got the chance to see any of his grandchildren graduate. He never got the chance to see any of us go off to college and he never got the chance to meet the man I’m going to marry. I’d do anything to get to see him again.Relay for Life 2018

There’s nothing I can do to bring my grandpa back. However, I will not ever let the memory of him fade. Even more, I soon discovered I could help make a difference for families/individuals suffering from this awful disease by joining Relay for Life. Relay for Life is a fundraising event for the American Cancer Society, and Relay for Life events happen globally. Each event raises money to help fund the many services one may need during a cancer journey: researching for a cure, providing transportation to and from treatments, supporting cancer patient programs and many other things! During the event, teams make sure at least one member is walking on the track at all times. Cancer doesn’t stop, so for one day, we don’t either. Cancer doesn’t stop when someone gets tired, so we push through the long event continuing to walk no matter what.  In high school, I was part of our local Relay for Life event, and it was so awesome to get to continue to be part of this amazing event in college as well.

DM at Relay for Life 2018On March 24th, UF’s Colleges Against Cancer (CAC) hosted its annual Relay for Life event at the Koehler Fitness and Recreation Complex. The theme was “Wave Cancer Good-bye,” and the complex was transformed into a beautiful underwater oasis that any fish would be happy to spend the day in! It was truly an amazing event from start to finish and was wonderfully put together by CAC. The day started with a lap around the track completed by the cancer survivors. I’m sure there was not a single dry eye in the audience. Next, the caregivers joined the survivors for another lap. Finally, we all “packed the track,” and took a lap to help kick off the event.

Throughout the day, there were games, raffles, inflatables, fundraising, and of course, laps around the track! During the event, there was also a luminaria ceremony lap. A luminaria is a lantern consisting of a lighted candle set in sand inside a paper bag, and at Relay for Life, it’s something one can buy in honor/memory of someone that is fighting, fought, or has lost the battle to cancer. During the lap we all walked around the track in silence, remembering these people. Again, a very emotional time for many, and my grandpa was definitely on my mind.

At the end of the event, CAC revealed the amount we had raised for the American Cancer Society: $35,107.90! Absolutely amazing.  If you’ve never been to a Relay for Life before, I highly recommend you check it out next year! UF’s Relay for Life was such a tremendous testimony to what we can accomplish when we come together as a school and a community. Together, we can help put an end to cancer, we can find a cure, and we can celebrate more birthdays.

This one was for you, grandpa.My Grandpa





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