Relay for Life: Curing cancer step-by-step

After two hours and almost twenty laps around the track, the participant’s feet began to tire yet when they looked to their fellow classmates, they felt rejuvenated and inspired to continue. Everyone had one unified goal: to raise money to find a cure for cancer.

Relay for Life is a unique event. Schools throughout the Conejo Valley Unified School District participate in the relay and, at the close of Relay, send all of the money they raise to the American Cancer Society. This money is used to continue investigating and searching for a cure to various types of cancer.

“The event starts at 9 (am) and … there will be an opening ceremony. At the opening ceremony, they will honor cancer survivors, cancer caretakers and everyone gets to do their own special lap,” Sam Klein, senior, said. “Throughout the day, there will be food, games, bands that perform, giveaways and different theme laps and it’s just a great day.”

Olivia Diliberti, senior, has been participating in Conejo Valley Relay for Life since she was seven or eight years old, when her mother took her for the first time.

“When I went to high school I found out there was a (Relay for Life) club and then I started getting really involved in the club,” Diliberti said.

Diliberti is co-president with Klein, and both have been working tirelessly to make this event special for the Panthers and get them involved.

Another key person involved in the club is Rachel Brown, senior, who acts as vice-president and treasurer.

“I’m specifically in charge of the commission planning the small events and getting people to sign up,” Brown said. “My role is really to get people. We had a big meeting where people came and got all their information and I’ve been setting up websites and making posters for publicity.”

Despite the fact that this year’s Relay will not be occurring on the Newbury Park campus, the Relay club has been working towards creating a strong Newbury Park presence at the Conejo Valley Relay event.

“We are actually working with them to get our own Newbury Park section so any teams that come from our high school will be together in one location. It will feel like it’s our relay but there will just be more people there as well,” Diliberti said.

Although the event will not be hosted by Newbury Park this year, Klein believes that combining the events will create a better event.

“We have more resources. It’s going to be more people. It’s going to be a full 24 hours, not 18 or 12. It’s going to be the full thing. I think in some sense, it’s going to actually be better so I’m excited to see it,” Klein said.

“My hope is that we can really get a lot of Newbury Park people there because it would be really incredible to have a NP presence at the Conejo Valley Relay,” Brown said.

For Klein and Diliberti, the most impactful part of Relay is the luminaria ceremony. During the ceremony, cancer caretakers, survivors and family members are honored and given glow sticks to hold. This is followed by a silent lap around the track. This particular ceremony has a powerful impact on the students who attend.

“It’s kind of a way to not just give back but to keep them in the back of your mind, I guess, because you can’t understand how their lives are affected until it happens to you,” Brown added. “While you can’t sympathize with them, you can empathize with them and support them through doing Relay for Life and all other cancer fundraisers.”

For anybody looking to get involved in Relay for Life, it is simple.

“We meet in Mr. Mulligan’s room on Tuesdays,” Brown said. “You can just come. Even if you can only come every once in awhile, we can throw you in, use you when you come. Or you can simply sign up on for the NP relay team and fundraise on your own individually and then just come to the event which is on May 20th.”

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