Madeline Tracht has stood against cancer her entire life, and now, she has done so with thousands of her fellow UGA students.
Overnight from April 6 to April 7, Madeline and more than 2,000 of her fellow students participated in the 19th Annual University of Georgia Relay for Life at UGA’s intramural fields. The annual event serves as the group’s culminating fundraiser to support the American Cancer Society.
Tracht, a senior marketing major from Orlando, Florida, served this past year as executive director for UGA’s Relay for Life. She has been involved in Relay since she was in elementary school, serving in leadership positions in high school and now at UGA.
“As I’ve done Relay over the years, I’ve realized that so many people are affected by cancer,” Tracht said. “It’s a cause that’s really easy to get behind, because if you ask a room of a million people how many have been affected by cancer or know someone who has, then a million people will raise their hand.”
Tracht follows in the footsteps of her mother, who chaired Relays back home, but her true motivation is personal.
“My grandfather passed away when I was 3,” she said. “I Relay in honor of him, and all my loved ones who have been affected.”
The University of Georgia’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.
Cancer never sleeps
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. The event occurs overnight in symbolic support for those for whom “cancer never sleeps.”
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 which inspires participants to take action.
Additionally, this year’s event featured a “Mister Relay” pageant, a lip sync competition, a “Relay Rave” with guest DJ’s and purple glow sticks, a food-eating contest, and rides on a mechanical bulldog.
The group also hosted various fundraisers throughout the year, including partnerships with local restaurants, a 5K with food trucks and live music, and a poker tournament with Greek organizations.
Tracht thinks there is something special about the way UGA students are committed to solving grand challenges.
“People are so passionate here,” she said. “They’re so inspired by one another. I do what I do because of my friends and other students — at UGA, we all share this passion for making the world a better place.”
For more information, visit www.ugarelay.org or follow UGA Relay for Life on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.