Relay for Life: supporting cancer research, survivors and caregivers

Student’s in Relay for Life each year advocate for cancer research and support for families nationwide. Photo Courtesy of Greer Garvin. 


Butler University’s Relay for Life will take place on Friday from 5:30 to 10 p.m. in the Reilly Room. The annual public event will have food, activities, music and lanterns in support of cancer research and all of those impacted by cancer. The fundraising goal for Relay for Life this year is $25,000. 

Greer Garvin, a senior marketing major and Relay for Life president, has a strong personal connection to cancer research advocacy. Her grandfather was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and lost his fight at age 79. Garvin’s mother survived both ovarian cancer and melanoma. 

“I was freaking out, because at this point, I only have my mom left,” Garvin said. “I remember thinking, ‘no, I can’t. What are we going to do?’ And she said, ‘you know, we beat it, we’re gonna fight — it’s gonna be okay.’”

Relay for Life honors stories like Garvin’s and her family’s with a luminaria ceremony, planned by members of the Relay for Life planning committee. During the ceremony, participants walk around and see lights placed in paper bags glow. On the paper bags are names of cancer survivors, people who are currently fighting cancer or others affected by cancer.

Executive member Peyton Thompson is involved in planning the luminaria portion of the night. Thompson, a senior journalism major, first participated in Relay for Life in 2018. Her personal connection to the Relay’s mission comes from her father’s current battle with a rare form of bone cancer. He will be speaking at the event as a guest speaker. 

“It takes courage to share a story of a personal experience that required extreme bravery, tough-headedness and an unreal amount of grit,” Thompson said. “He is my hero, my inspiration and my best friend, and I couldn’t be more proud he will be sharing his journey and advocating for those fighting this disease we relay to cure.”

The theme this year for Relay for Life is based around the TV show “Friends” with the slogan, “The One Where We Find a Cure.” Students can sign up for the event online or at the doors of the event. It is $5 to participate, and participants that raise $100 or more will earn a “Friends” themed T-shirt.

“Right now we have about 85 to 90 people signed up, but our goal is around 200,” Garvin said. “We encourage people to commit just as an individual or as a team, because there are a lot of fun things, like a bake sale by the men’s and women’s athletic teams, ‘Friends’ trivia and Pie BUPD.”

Garvin also emphasized the fact that cancer has an indelible mark on society.

“I think at least every person knows somebody who has cancer or is currently battling cancer, which is kinda a crazy statistic,” Garvin said. “Even though it may not be affecting you, it is affecting someone around you, so advocating for people is just the right thing to do.” 



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