Walking Towards a Cure: 2023’s Relay for Life

Marissa Levinson, Opinions Editor

 The sun sets and booths rise as PPCHS transforms its field and parking lot into the animated, disco-themed Relay for Life event, on Friday, March 10th. Hundreds of families swarmed the food, activity, and prize-filled scene, to support a good cause while simultaneously making unforgettable memories. 

   In association with Pembroke Pines and Miramar, PPCHS hosted the event this year, with every member, officer, and committee bringing something to the table. Friends, distant family members, and parents’ Facebook friends pitched in, all making generous donations throughout the year, leading the club to raise a total of over $12,000 counting down to the event. As someone who has played a vital role in Charter Relay for Life chapter’s success since middle school, this year’s team captain, Amogh Baranwal, has known for a while that he “wanted to help lead our team in joining the fight against cancer,”—and the junior has done just that. By the end of the celebration, PPCHS raised over $15,000! All of the money raised helps to fund the American Cancer Society, which serves to ease the hardship that this devastating disease weighs on families.

   From 6:00 p.m. through 12:00 a.m., Pines Charter Relay for Life members took the lead by running a face painting station, raffle, and sales table. The booth was embellished with vibrant disco balls overhead, metallic silver-tinsel backdrops, and purple decorative accents, while bracelets, drawstring bags, and lap beads were sprawled across. These items were sold in the event’s entirety, contributing to the grand donation total. Charter junior Esanty Rodriguez was among the many club members who pitched in to the event’s setup, run-through, and cleanup, and even assisted in running the sales booth. She expressed how “the Relay for Life program holds a special place in [her] heart, and she is “happy to be a part of a community that is working to achieve such accomplishments for our future.”

   Our school’s booths were only a portion of the event, with a stage serving to consistently keep guests entertained, ice cream and other snack stands standing tall, and even a bounce house welcoming younger attendees, all distributed throughout. Amogh was especially taken aback when he saw “actual people who have battled and gone through the struggle,” which prompted him to truly reflect about “why we do all the things we do” in this virtuous club. Of all the moments, contests, and memories of the night, “the complete star of the show was the luminaria ceremony,” to Baranwal—in which the path of the track was illuminated with bags that honored the lives of those who battled cancer. A somber mood overcame the event, as lights dimmed, chatter quieted, and everyone took a lap around the candlelit track in unison. 

   As members of this club know, the cultivation of this event tracked all the way back to the start of the school year, and steadily developed at every meeting since. “For the past few months our officers have been attending monthly district, officer, and general club meetings aimed at getting all details and events sorted out.” Amogh recalls and appreciates the endless dedication his team put in throughout the year, highlighting the fact that “without [them], we would not be anywhere.”

 “Cancer is something that almost everyone has experienced to some degree, whether having it themselves or caring for someone who has it.” March 10th’s Relay event brought the district together to build a sense of community, hope, and strength for this everlasting cause.