“I don’t think I’ve ever felt so proud in my 11 years of being at South Side and being a part of this community,” said English teacher Meghan O’Brien, who served as the faculty adviser for the school’s first ever Relay For Life. “To see the overwhelming response the day of was really something spectacular.”
Hundreds gathered to the high school track last Saturday for the fundraiser, which raised about $55,000 for the American Cancer Society. Students had been planning the event for more than a year, and though unpredictable weather made the day “chaotic,” according to Cancer Awareness Club President Giulia Pugliese, it was a special day.
“It was honestly just an amazing experience seeing everyone in the community come out,” Pugliese said.
Organizers set up the event inside the gym due to rain earlier in the day, but by 5 p.m. the sun came out. The opening ceremony was held on the track, as cancer survivors and caregivers did laps. At about 8 p.m. it began to rain, as people made their way inside for the traditional luminaria ceremony, during which attendees illuminate paper bags that they had dedicated to those diagnosed with cancer.
Pugliese and fellow senior Angela Sourial, who helped bring the event to South Side, said the indoor ceremony was their favorite part of the night. Everyone was given glow sticks, and walked around the makeshift gym track in silence.
“Everyone is together,” Sourial said of the intimate ceremony. “These days it seems like there’s so many things that divide us, and in that moment, we were all together. We were all there to try to change the future of cancer.”