After extensive preparation and excitement, Relay for Life has finally had the event that they have been waiting for since the beginning of the school year, Pembroke Pines Relay for Life. People from all over South Florida come to this enjoyable and charitable event. Every year Relay for Life has a theme that makes each year’s event special. In honor of the Pembroke Pines Relay for Life being 16 years old, this year’s theme was “Sweet 16”. All the teams each had a specific “Sweet 16” theme. Team PPCHS had a circus theme while others had themes such as Paris, Luau, Mardi Gras etc. Team PPCHS was at the top by being the number one fundraising team in the city this year raising a whopping $11,600.
The event began at 5 p.m. where students and staff flocked to the camp site to start setting up the circus tent of “Cirque Du Relay”. The tent was filled with stripes of red and white and tall rose red curtains making it look like a real circus tent. Clown cupcakes, popcorn, raffle baskets, and other circus delights were on top of two bright red tables under the tent ready to make a sale for charity. At 6:30 p.m., some members of the team went to the Survivor Dinner that honors those that have survived cancer and those who were caregivers to their survivors. The dinner was filled with mouthwatering food from places like Whole Foods and Wendy’s.
A few moments later at 8 p.m. is where all the fun began, the Opening Ceremony. The co-chairmen of Pembroke Pines Relay for Life, Jules Meyer and Kristi Krueger, made their opening remarks. Then, the Pembroke Pines Relay for Life Committee members were thanked which includes PPCHS’ very own students, seniors Victoria Alvarez and Carli Stander, who are Youth Engagement co-chairs. Then there was the presenting of the teams and their respective team captains. Also, individuals were recognized for raising large amounts of money which included PPCHS team member Alvarez, raised $2500 in honor of her brother and survivor Nicholas Alvarez, who was a survivor for Team PPCHS. After that, it was time for the Survivor Lap, which is the first lap around the track to honor those people who have kicked cancer to the curb. The survivors were called based on how many years they have been a survivor. Team PPCHS was cheering on for our very own survivors that include team sponsor Mrs. Torres and sophomore Pilar Sanchez. The second lap was the caregiver lap for those who helped their survivors beat the battle of cancer. The third lap was the Team Banner lap where all the Pembroke Pines Relay for Life teams come together with their banners to walk around the track with their entire team singing the Relay chant “Relay we love it all 16 hours of it”.
At around 10 p.m., the event got a little more emotional with the Luminaria Ceremony. Luminarias are white paper bags with a candle that one can decorate in honor of someone or in memory of someone. Track lights are shut down and candles are lit for the ceremony. This is usually a time of reflection and not a lot of talking is going on. This is the true time where Team PPCHS bonds together in the fight for the cure for cancer. The Luminaria Ceremony shows the true reason why the team members relay. It is a time when all the team members bond and come together to remember their loved ones or to honor their survivors.
As 11 p.m. approached, wristbands for students staying the night arrived and the general public started to leave because after 11p.m., the event closed off to only the Relay teams. After 11p.m., there were many events such as the Relay Selfie, Relay Olympics, scavenger hunt, etc. When 1 a.m. hit, it was the event everyone had been waiting for all year, the Miss Relay Pageant. Sponsored by the PR Pageant Coaches Team, one guy is chosen from each team to dress as females to raise money for the cause. There is an introduction portion, dance portion, interview portion, and the dance off portion. After that, each “gal” walked around the track for two laps and whoever got the most money won half the money for their team and the other half goes to the American Cancer Society. The winner of the Miss Relay Pageant was a PPCHS student Raul (RJ) Reyes going as Sandra from Team Lakeside. At 4:30 a.m., the lights shut off and students went to their tents and caught some Zzz’s before having to wake up in a few hours.
When students were awoken to take down their tents, they had a light breakfast before packing up their cars and heading home for some more much-needed sleep. The event comes to an end with a Closing Ceremony followed by a team banner Lap of Hope.
“The Relay Event went better than any year before. Raising over $11,500, PPCHS was the number one team in the city. The team worked extremely hard to raise money for the event and also in preparing the campsite. In my opinion, our campsite was one of the nicest and everything we sold seems to be a hit! Since it was my last year at PPCHS, it was bittersweet, but I know that next year our team will do better,” says senior and Team Captain Fabiola Moleiro.
After extensive hours of preparation, hard work, and selling, the PPCHS Relay for Life Team finally saw what all their hard work and effort created for this event and how it helped find a cure.
Reported by: Anthony KELLEHER
Photo donated by: Myrna ALVAREZ