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The U of O community came out in full force for this year’s Relay for Life

Spencer Van Dyk | Fulcrum Staff

A record breaking 371 people packed the university centre from 7 p.m. on March 15 to 7 a.m. on March 16 for the University of Ottawa’s annual Relay for Life.

Relay for Life is an international cancer-fighting fundraising initiative; with over $30,000 raised at the U of O’s relay this year alone, it was a clear success, and saw students putting their time and money toward a great cause.

“It went really well,” said Jozef Spiteri, vp social of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO). “It’s been going on for the last couple of years, and we just keep having a bigger and bigger turnout, so that’s been really nice.”

The SFUO played a bigger organizational role this year than it has in previous years, and according to Spiteri, the committee in charge did a great job.

The relay was an emotional one, beginning with the luminary ceremony. As per tradition, during this ceremony candles are put in white bags and placed around the relay track to commemorate those who have died from cancer or are fighting the disease.

“It was very emotional,” Spiteri said. “It was interesting to see people get together and bring community behind it. There’s a beauty behind that.”

Fourth year student and co-chair of the organizing committee for the relay Juliana Coughlin wants students to know that their participation is valued and that they are taken into consideration during the planing stage of the relay.

“Together as a committee we planned the event around three themes to fight back, to celebrate, and to remember, and we encouraged participants to remember this the night of,” she said. “Everyone has been affected by cancer and Relay for Life allows students to support each other, to remember and to fight back.”

Groups of all kinds gathered in teams, and as long as there was one member of each team doing a lap at all times, other participants were able to enjoy the SFUO-organized events, including concerts, a Quidditch tutorial, and a reptile demonstration—all geared toward keeping everyone awake and engaged. It was not until around 2:30 a.m. that people started to try to squeeze in naps.

The relay not only raises money for cancer research but also brings together a wide variety of people who may have never met otherwise.

“You had the sororities,” Spiteri said. “Some clubs, the SFUO, and then you had these individuals that just got together around a friend or different situation. It just shows how cancer can be, and that it doesn’t really care where you’re from.”

There were activities in Alumni Hall, performances at the Agora, and people sleeping at the UCU Lounge. According to Spiteri, who was participating in the relay for the first time, it was a late but successful evening.

“Relay has meant so much to me throughout my time here at uOttawa,”  said Coughlin, who lost her father to cancer five years ago.

The U of O’s monetary contribution from the event is just over $31,000 and counting, with the top five teams raising nearly $11,000.