Grad student helps organize Relay for Life
All for a good cause
by Jeff Green
Chris King is on a mission and he needs your help. The energetic 23-year-old who’s in the second year of his master’s program with the cardiovascular and renal research group in the Faculty of Medicine is trying to make a difference for those affected by cancer.
He also wants to motivate the entire university community to become a national leader in the fight against the disease.
That’s why he’s stepped up to the challenge of helping organize its first Relay for Life, set to start in the Field House on Jan. 27 at 8 p.m. and last until 8 a.m. the next day.
The event is a partnership between Memorial and the Canadian Cancer Society. For 12 straight hours, participants will walk or run around the track in a celebration of survival and a tribute to those who’ve been touched by cancer. When they’re not on the track, they’ll take part in other activities to keep their momentum going. There’ll also be poignant moments throughout the evening including the Luminary Ceremony; during the touching event candles will be placed in special bags that bear the names of cancer survivors and loved ones who have lost their battle with cancer.
“The Relay for Life is a night to celebrate survival, a tribute to the lives of loved ones, and a night of fun, friendship and fundraising to beat cancer,” Mr. King said recently in the Field House.
The event is also an opportunity for Memorial’s massive student body the largest in Atlantic Canada to get behind a great cause. Mr. King, who is originally from Grand Falls-Windsor, is also urging as many faculty and staff members to get involved.
“Cancer has affected every one of us in one way or another, there’s no denying that,” he said.
“Memorial University has the potential to surpass all other universities across Canada. It’s something we should aim towards … so that we can help our fellow Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.”
If that weren’t motivation enough, Mr. King said students will also directly benefit from the event. He noted that some of the money generated from the event will be put into scholarships for post-secondary students.
This year’s relay will be the fourth event Mr. King has taken an active role in getting off the ground. He organized two highly successful events while completing his bachelor of science degree at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, and a similar event in his hometown.
He said he has gotten not only a sense of pride out of organizing the relays but the volunteer work has given him invaluable experience and pushed him to hone his leadership skills.
“Before I became involved with the Relay for Life I found it difficult to develop those abilities,” he said. “The sense of pride I felt following the event was so meaningful. The feeling that you had a small hand in fighting the battle against cancer is indescribable. That’s what I want to bring to Memorial.”
In total, 13 students are helping organize this month’s Relay for Life, including Mr. King’s co-chair Jessica Bishop. Dr. Janet Krantz, a former assistant professor in the university’s Counselling Centre, and Kim Kelly, experiential learning co-ordinator with Career Development and Experiential Learning are also involved.
To register and learn more about this year’s relay, visit www.cancer.ca or call 1-888-753-6520.