One fine Friday evening this past April found hundreds of UW-Madison students, their friends and their relatives inside the Camp Randall Memorial Sports Complex (or the SHELL as it is colloquially known around Madison).
Among the crowd was a group of students, staff and faculty from the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research and the UW Cancer Research program. We were there for the Madison chapter of the annual American Cancer Society (ACS) Relay for Life event.
According to the ACS, every Relay for Life is a celebration of cancer survivors and their family and friends and what they have overcome. It is an opportunity to remember and honor the loved ones who have fallen to the disease, and finally a chance to come together and raise funds and awareness for cancer research and outreach.
Our team from McArdle set up camp near a giant, inflatable colon (of course we did!), which modeled how different a section of healthy large intestine looks compared to different kinds of colon cancer.
For twelve hours (6pm to 6am) the SHELL was turned into a magical kingdom where people sang, danced and walked to help raise money for the ACS and to support cancer research and outreach.
The start of the twelve hours was marked with hope and celebration as cancer survivors and their caretakers walked the first loop around the SHELL track to resounding cheers from the onlookers. Then we all joined in.
Team McArdle was spearheaded by Caitlin Rugani, a second year Cancer Biology graduate student. Ten McArdle-ites made their way around the track to not only help raise money for the fight against cancer, but to also bring awareness of the resources and laboratories that are researching cancer right here at UW-Madison.
Overall, Team McArdle raised $1430 for the ACS, and walked or ran or piggy-back-raced (see the video!) twelve full hours totaling over 50 miles. Look out next year for the McArdle team to hit the track again with the goal of topping $1500 raised!
With over 1500 participants and more than $150,000 dollars raised, this year’s UW-Madison’s Relay for Life was a huge success. And as the rising sun shone through the windows of the SHELL - even though we hadn’t conquered cancer quite yet - I left with the immortal words of William Henley echoing in my head
“It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul”