Feature Stories

‘No way we’re not going to win’

During Emily Maggs' four years at the University of Georgia, she has learned that she shares something with every other student: She hates cancer.

Overnight from April 7 to April 8, Emily and nearly 3,000 of her fellow students participated in the 18th Annual University of Georgia Relay for Life at UGA's intramural fields. The event culminated with the early morning announcement that the students had raised a total of $255,129.47 to support the American Cancer Society.

Maggs, a senior majoring in consumer journalism, is originally from London, but her family now resides in Savannah. She served this past year as executive director for UGA's Relay for Life.

"Everyone has a connection to cancer," Maggs said. "You could be attending a concert with 10,000 people, and every single person will have been touched by cancer in some way."

Maggs initially got involved with Relay for her mom and dad, who are both cancer survivors, but she now says her reasons have grown.

"The more you are involved in Relay, the more you realize that you Relay for everyone around you — everyone who Relays and everyone on campus," Maggs said. "I Relay so that one day my children won't have to."

UGA's event is notable for being Relay's first event organized by, led by and composed entirely of college students. The student group is an affiliate of Relay for Life that is registered with UGA Student Affairs' Center for Student Activities and Involvement.

UGA Relay has raised more than $3 million for the American Cancer Society since the first relay in 1999 and annually ranks as one of the top collegiate Relays in the nation.

This year's event featured the staples of Relays across the country: a survivors lap in which survivors celebrate their victories over cancer while participants congratulate them, a luminaria ceremony during which candles are lit in honor of those lost to cancer and in support of individuals whose fights continue, and a fight back ceremony that inspires participants to take action.

Additionally, the group held team fundraisers, a "Mister Relay" pageant, a lip sync competition, a silent disco, a food-eating contest, and a warrior tournament on an inflatable obstacle course.

UGA Relay for Life hosted various fundraisers throughout the year, including an inaugural Light the Track event, a luminaria ceremony at Herty Field last fall.

Maggs explained that Relay brings students from across campus together for a common cause.

"Every story is different, but you're all fighting for the same thing. You realize you're not fighting this alone." she said. "When you see all these people coming together, you begin to think, 'there's no way we're not going to win this.'"

Relay for Life is a national nonprofit organization benefiting the American Cancer Society. Local events are held at schools and in communities across the country each spring in which participants walk around tracks, play games, enjoy music and food and recognize and celebrate individuals and families touched by cancer.

For more information, visit www.ugarelay.org.

Published Saturday,