Relay For Life kicks into gear March 5

Annual relay marathon already has raised $180,000 for American Cancer Society

The annual Relay For Life will be held Saturday and Sunday, March 5 and 6, at Francis Field’s Bushyhead Track at Washington University in St. Louis.

The relay is a 12-hour family-friendly event that raises money for the American Cancer Society.

More than 1,700 volunteers, participants and supporters will be on hand for the fundraiser that already has generated $180,000 this year for cancer research, advocacy, patient services and education, says Harita Shah, a senior in biomedical engineering and communications chair for the event.

WUSTL’s relay is ranked first in the High Plains Division (Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and Hawaii) and is one of the 10 highest-grossing relays in the nation.

“The event is such a unified, enthusiastic, passionate response that is very moving,” Shah says. “I like being there because it raises so much money for such an important cause.”

In her first two years participating in the event, Shah had no personal investment in the cause. But in her junior year, her mother developed advanced breast cancer. The relay took on new meaning for Shah.

“Being on relay really helped because people were so supportive,” Shah says. “I knew I could do something to help.”

Happily for Shah, last month her mother was designated as being free of cancer for a full year.

“But I don’t run the relay just for her,” Shah says. “It affects a lot of people. It’s really inspiring that so many people run it without having a personal connection to it.”

The relay consists of teams with a minimum of eight members, one of whom will be walking, jogging or running at all times during the relay. Throughout the night, individuals who have been touched by cancer — patients, survivors and caregivers — will be remembered and honored.

Besides the creative team-decorated campsites, the relay will have games and activities, including the “Miss Relay Pageant,” and a raffle for a variety of prizes. They include Southwest Airlines tickets, free meals for a year at the St. Louis Bread Company and more.

The event is open to all for a $10 donation per person. Opening ceremonies begin at 6 p.m.

For more information, to volunteer or to donate money to the American Cancer Society, visit or e-mail