Silence fell upon the Pullman High School track as organizers read the list of names written on a luminaria at the 2012 Relay For Life event Friday night.
The candels within the luminaria, or white paper bags decorated in memory of or to honor loved ones, served as the only light as the names were listed. The event brought in about $41,700 in donations.
”It’s a celebration for people who have survived cancer and we remember those who have lost their fight,” said Ryan Bailey, community relationship manager for Relay For Life. "Also those who are right in the middle of it now."
Relay For Life is a nationwide, overnight event organized by the American Cancer Society to raise funds for cancer research and cancer services, Bailey said. The event started at 6 p.m. on Friday and ended by 8 a.m. on Saturday.
Bailey said the theme this year was “Fighting Cancer Through the Ages.” He said the committee was hoping to see teams dressed up to themes such as the eighties but he thinks the cold probably deterred some costumes.
Forty-five teams signed up for the event and worked to raise funds for the cause, he said.
Freshman psychology major Courtney Stute said she enjoyed the luminaria ceremony.
“While the names were going, I could recall which bag it was,” Stute said.
She said she was passing by some of the luminarias as volunteers were reading the names.
“It was surreal,” she said.
Keisha Cannal, a freshman criminal justice major, said she made a luminaria for her grandma. She said she enjoyed the quieter music during the luminaria ceremony.
“It gave me time to think about stuff,” Cannal said.
The lighting ceremony occurred at 10 p.m. The luminaria candles were the sole source of light as the names of loved ones were announced. The main lights were turned back on at 10:45 p.m.
At about midnight, DJ Express, the music entertainment for the night, announced a dance off and series of decades themed music.
A movie was shown with a projector and screen next to the DJ booth for the walkers and participants awake during the early morning hours.
Bailey said last year’s Relay For Life hosted 54 teams. He said he is unsure why the number of teams decreased this year but the committee is pushing to increase participation again next year.
He said this is the fifth year Relay For Life has been associated with the WSU community. He said the committee is trying to promote the event to Pullman community to encourage more non-university involvement.
“It’s not like Pullman and the university are separate things,” he said.
Freshman kinesiology major Brooke Newhardt said this year was her second Relay For Life but first time in Pullman. Last year she participated in the Tacoma event. She said the smaller venue allows a better opportunity to meet new people because of the tighter-knit group of participants.
“It was great in a way because you get to meet other people and make new friends and socialize about the reason why we’re here,” Newhardt said.