Relay for Life to be held at RCTC
Amber Benike, 2018 Relay for Life Honorary Chair, knows from personal experience the value of community support for cancer patients. When she was diagnosed with bone cancer at 25 which later metastasized to her lungs, Amber was shocked. “You just have so many things on your mind, it’s really helpful to have a community of support. When I was sick, we had people helping with yard work and meals. It’s the little stuff like that, that means a lot.” Now on the brink of a full recovery, Amber is advocating for the event which holds a completely new meaning to her since her run-in with cancer. On Friday, June 15, Relay for Life is coming to Rochester Community and Technical College to raise awareness and donations for cancer patients.
Q: What do you see as the main goal of Relay for Life?
A: Obviously, it’s fundraising, but of all the cancer fundraisers out there, Relay for Life is really special because it’s all about awareness and community. Everybody, says ‘let’s cure cancer’ but we can’t start to cure it if we aren’t putting money into finding new technologies, studies and therapies. Obviously, not everybody can afford to contribute money, so that’s where volunteering comes into play. Even at the relay, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities and things we can use help with.
Q: What activities can we expect at this year's event?
A: So, of course there’s the relay where survivors and patient supporters walk laps, then there’s a silent auction, there are activities for kids like inflatables and such, a couple food trucks, and each team is going to have their own booth. Every team is doing something different, but for example, my team is going to have a lemonade stand and face painting. If nothing else, it should be fun!
Q: Why do you think it’s so important to face cancer as a community as opposed to individually?
A: Just because there’s strength in numbers. Not only that, but even people who’ve gone through cancer and had a great support system like I did, still fight that feeling of being alone. It helps to meet, and be surrounded by people who went through the same experience.
Q: This event is going to mean something different for everyone involved; survivors, patients and supporters of those who’ve been sick. What’s the common thread that ties everyone together?
A: Even so, it’s different for everyone, and sometimes family supporters don’t fully understand what you’re going through. This event allows you to bond and connect with people in ways your caregivers can’t relate to. Likewise, someone who has experienced the loss of a loved one may only find consolation in someone else who has. The idea is to allow hardship to bring us together. As I have in the past, if I were to describe this event in one word, it would be ‘hope.' That’s what it’s about. Making connections and taking steps to make a better future.
Relay for Life of Olmsted County begins Friday, June 15 at 5 p.m.
You can register for the event here.
Sid Clarke is a student at Mayo High School, where she is president of the Literature Club. In the past, she has been a columnist for the Post Bulletin and an independent novelist. Sid finds writing inspiration from Shakespeare, Stravinsky and Metallica.