Senior hopes to go all-out for Relay for Life fundraising this year

Abbey Haldeman, Staff Writer

“Eight years ago, my family participated in an event, because almost 11 years ago my aunt passed away of melanoma and once I found out we were doing one here, I decided to join,” Aaron Nikles said.

Nikles, a senior mechanical engineering major, is a prime example that even if cancer hasn’t personally affected you, there is probably someone around us who has.  Nikles, a senior mechanical engineering major, said the non-curable disease has affected almost everyone on his Relay for Life team.

For the past six years, Wilkes has been hosting a Relay for Life event to raise money for the American Cancer Society.  The two day event will be held on the greenway beginning April 28 at noon and ending April 29 at 6 a.m.  As part of the event, separate teams participate in fundraising, entertainment events.

“The events range from more serious to more fun,” Relay for Life organizer Bethany Sharpless said.

Nikles and his team are working together to raise money, and for the past three years they have been the relay team with the highest fundraising count. Between asking his family to donate, hosting Guitar Hero fundraisers and just doing what he can, Aaron is hoping to raise somewhere around $1,000 this year.

He said these things motivate him to push forward and earn as much money as possible.

“This is my last year here, so I want to beat my past records and it would also be nice to be able to pass the torch on to someone else,” Nikles said.

Current fundraisers include the sales of T-shirt sales and pins reading “cancer sucks.”

“We have raised over $200 in t-shirts and pin sales so far, and anticipate quite a few more as the event approaches-the pace is beginning to pick up,” Sharpless said.

Beyond the T-shirt and pin sales, there have been restaurant socials, which have raised up to $500 a piece, bake sales and sales of luminary bags. Fundraisers will continue weekly through the month of April with such events as Coldstone donating a percentage of all sales on the April 17, Bart and Urby’s half price appetizers and 45 cent wings on April 20, a tie-dye social, on April 24, and a new tradition, the Relay Banner which will take place on April 27.

Nikles and his team plan to make a tribute poster for the individuals team members have lost or know are battling cancer.  Because the teams are separated and come up with a theme for themselves, Nikles and his team will be pirates once again.  The first year Nikles was involved in Relay for Life his team had a pirate theme and he decided this would really help to bring them full circle for his final year. As a team full of pirates, he said the team plans on wreaking some havoc during the event.

“Our goal is to kidnap a member from other teams and hold them for ransom, if people aren’t willing to pay for them, we are going to make them walk the plank,” Nikles said.

Some of the events taking place during the two-day event are ceremonies remembering those who have passed away or survived cancer, a talent show, Mr. Wilkes cross-dressing beauty pageant and team competitions.  There will also be a BBQ taking place along with the other events.

Nikles maintains the disease is near to everyone, whether it is personal or not.

“It is impossible to find someone without a connection to cancer.” Nikles said.

Nikles said Relay for Life is a good cause that everyone is willing to help in.