For twelve hours, members of the BSM community and other strangers from around the area gathered on the school’s track and field to spend the night celebrating, remembering, and fundraising for all the lives of those affected by cancer. This powerful night consisted of people, all ages, coming together, pitching tents, sharing food, and taking laps around the track at the first ever BSM Relay for Life, coordinated by teacher Mr. Matt St. Martin.
Because preparations for the event began only in January, the American Cancer Society (ACS) hoped BSM would reach the goal of raising between $10,000 to $12,000. “American Cancer Society said we couldn’t do it in just five months. But the word ‘can’t’ makes me want to do it even more,” said Mr. St. Martin.
With determined participants, such as junior Dan Nelson, BSM was able to raise over $52,000. Nelson was the highest male fundraiser, collecting $830. “My mom and I emailed people, and they were very generous. I have never had to experience cancer; I’ve been really lucky. I want people to have the same experience I have had,” said Nelson.
All 408 participants gathered in the bleachers several times throughout the night to recognize survivors and caregivers and to share inspiring stories. Senior Gabrielle Mgeni was recognized by the ACS for all of her service in the community. “I was awarded the American Cancer Society Youth and Leadership Volunteering scholarship because I am a cancer survivor,” said Mgeni.
Mgeni was very thrilled with how the event turned out. “It was a nice experience to bring everyone together and to show their support. I walked nine out of the twelve hours,” said Mgeni,
The most memorable part of the evening was when the luminary bags were aligned in the bleachers spelling out inspiring words such as HOPE and CURE. “This was the favorite part of my night. After I got done doing the luminaries in the stands, I got to step back and watch how all the other people reacted. It was very overwhelming and powerful for everyone,” said Mr. St. Martin.
The personalized luminary bags, designed by Relay for Life participants, lined the track to honor and remember those who had cancer. “Watching students gather in groups and sit by the luminary bags was emotionally draining for me, yet satisfying at the same time,” said St. Martin.
All who attended felt just how powerful the experience was. Between all the participants, donors, and BSM Relay for Life organizers, the event was made a huge success. “Words won’t express how grateful I am,” said Mr. St. Martin.