On the night of Saturday, April 28th, hundreds of Puget Sound students and community members filled the track at Baker Stadium for the University’s annual Relay for Life. An event that originated on that very track in 1985, when Tacoma surgeon Dr. Gordon Klatt decided to walk for twenty four hours to raise funds for the American cancer society; the event is now international and chapters routinely raise hundred of thousands of dollars. The event is a hallmark of the year for Puget Sound students, and is the largest philanthropic fundraiser on campus.
This past event, one Puget Sound student went above and beyond to support survivors and raise awareness. While most students may aim to walk the miles of their age, or to spend all 24 hours on the track, Senior Cara Gillespie dedicated herself to marking down two marathons in distance. Accomplishing 208 laps, Cara completed 52 plus miles and was herself the event’s largest fund raiser, brining in $1,635 for the American Cancer Society.
With her every step of the way, Cara was constantly in the company of her sisters. Cara is a proud sister of Gamma Phi Beta sorority, and the women of her chapter came together to support Cara. Supporting Relay is nothing new for the women of Gphi, who every year have a sign up to make sure that there is a member on the track every hour of the event from start to finish. But when Cara told them her goal for the year, they made sure to have a sister with her each lap she ran or walked (yes, she ran). ” I put a shirt out a few weeks before, and had people sign it with names;” this shirt can be seen on Cara in the picture above. After completing the first marathon’s distance, Cara realized half night still remained, and set her new goal of completing two marathons before the events conclusion. When Cara hit a wall with almost 18 laps to go, her sisters pulled through. Showing up together early sunday morning, a group of ladies form Gphi joined Cara for the final push to her goal.
Such support is far from uncommon in the greek community at the University. While Cara’s effort stands out on campus, each year every house in the community is represented on the track through the night. Greek teams are constantly some of the largest groups participating in the event. Two of the top three fundraising teams this year were greek houses, as were all three of last year’s top fundraising teams. Additionally, this year’s top three individual fundraisers were all members of greek houses.
Each year, when Relay comes around late in the spring, the Puget Sound community will come out in force to support the event. And every year, you will see hundreds of students, like Cara, proudly wearing their letters and walking together with each other to support the fight against cancer.
*Cara also wanted it to be known that two of her good friends and track team mates Becca Adams and Sarah Stillman stayed on the track with her all night and walked with her into the early hours of the morning, though they are not Greek.