Relay for Life, an annual fundraising walk held by the American Cancer Society, will arrive in Knoxville on Friday, April 11, at World's Fair Park.
The walk, which first began in 1985, has grown to involve thousands of people who walk as individuals and teams to raise money and donations for the fight against cancer.
Grant Smith, junior in communication studies with a minor in psychology, is this year's director of communications for Knoxville's Relay for Life event.
"The money that is raised by the relay goes to the American Cancer Society, in which they use the money to fund groundbreaking research for all types of cancer," Smith said. "They also use this money to provide free services and information to cancer patients and their caregivers."
Smith said participants can expect a night of games, live trivia, a live band and karaoke.
"This year's relay theme is 'When You Wish Upon a Cure,'" Smith said, "in which teams that have signed up will be able to decorate their booths and dress up like characters from their chosen Disney movie."
The American Cancer Society, the largest provider of non-governmental funds for cancer research in the U.S., offers a number of services to cancer patients, including the "Hope Lodge," housing for patients forced to travel for treatment and the "Look Good, Feel Better" program, which provides women with beauty techniques to manage the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
In addition, every dollar raised by the relay funds cancer research and grants for new and innovative cancer treatments, said Danielle Cappel, senior in sociology.
Cappel has been involved with the Relay for Life program all four years of college. Currently serving as director of production for Knoxville's relay, she oversees all the night's ceremonies in addition to planning cancer advocacy and awareness events throughout the semester.
"I think UT students should attend Relay for Life because cancer is an illness that affects everyone in some way," Cappel said. "Relay allows UT students to come together, be united and show our Volunteer pride in support of something other than a football game."
For Cappel, the event is personal. Both her younger brother and grandfather suffered from cancer.
"My little brother is now in remission, but my grandpa lost his battle, so I've seen both sides of the coin — a survivor and someone who wasn't able to overcome this illness," Cappel said. "Relay gives me an opportunity to honor both of them, and it is incredibly humbling when you look out in Circle Park and you see all of these students gathered together for the same cause."
Smith said he hopes students will join the effort and asserted that the relay is about more than competition.
"We really hope to see students involved in such a wonderful event, and we want them to know that the Relay for Life is not a race," Smith said. "It's about Vols fighting to cure cancer."