Relay for Life organizers continue to spread awareness from home

While the pandemic has halted in-person campus activities, Relay for Life finds new ways to stay active and engaged.


Bailey Westfall

(L-R): Students Bailey Westfall, club president, Amanda Andrews, McKenna Ferris and Maria Dovshek, club vice president, at the 2019 Relay for Life event.

Alexandra Paes, Staff Writer

The Relay for Life organization at California University refuses to let distance learning stop them from spreading their awareness message to the public.

Cal U’s chapter of Relay for Life is sponsored by the American Cancer Society and has hosted fundraisers over the past few years. The biggest fundraiser is held in October at the Cal U football stadium and consists of a relay for participants to honor those who have faced a battle with cancer.

A variety of prizes, raffle baskets and food is sold in order to raise the funds which are later donated to the American Cancer Society. A closing prayer lumination ceremony is held to honor those that have lost their cancer battle.

“I think this disease affects a lot more people than we realize and I have a lot of friends that I didn’t know had family going through something like that until Relay For Life brought us together,” said Bailey Westfall, club president.

Westfall got involved in the organization her freshman year through Gamma Sigma Sigma, a service sorority at Cal U, after being inspired by her father’s long-fought battle with cancer when she was young.

“The relay gives an outlet for support that students or faculty may not have reached out for otherwise,” Westfall said. “We are a small knit club with lots of room for future student participation.”

The club has come together to be a supportive force for not only it’s members but the CalU community and has continued its outreach through social media platforms throughout the pandemic. With COVID-19 restrictions still in place, the club is unable to put on their annual relay, but are refusing to let a little social distancing stop their message.

“COVID has affected our typical fundraiser but we are planning to rally support regardless and hopefully be able to plan something for the spring semester,” said club vice president, Maria Dovshek.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and is celebrated by wearing the color pink for those who are battling, have beaten or lost their lives to breast cancer.

The Relay for Life organization is having student clubs and groups take a screenshot of their October Zoom meeting with all their members wearing pink to show support of the cause. The screenshots will be compiled onto the club’s Instagram page and open for the public to view.

“This organization has shown me how giving our community is,” Dovshek said. “We were asked if a group of us were willing to put this event together last year and we agreed. If we weren’t willing to do it then the event may not have happened in the first place and the club may not have raised the $14,000 for cancer.”