Web Extra! SAE plans cancer fundraiser this weekend

by Julie Loven

Sigma Alpha Epsilon will be up all night this Saturday sponsoring its Fourth annual Relay For Life.

Relay For Life is an overnight event where teams come together to celebrate cancer survival and raise money for cancer research.

The American Cancer Society is the lead sponsor of the event. More than 15 years old, the relay is the society’s biggest event.

Simpson College’s SAE members started the event in Warren County four years ago, and the event is now the house’s philanthropy. Members say they have growing numbers each year.

“We have close to 49 teams this year, which is a record number,” said SAE’s Heath Sollars, who is co-chair of the event.

Relay For Life remembers those lost to cancer remembered and provides money for cancer research so that someday researchers might find a cure for the disease that is one of the leading causes of death in the United States.

Starting at 6 p.m. on Saturday, one member of each team will continually be walking around Cowles gymnasium until 8 a.m. Sunday.

When SAE started the event four years ago, members raised $15,000-$16,000. This year, they’re hoping to raise $30,000-$40,000 in donations.

Relay For Life is not strictly for members of the SAE fraternity.

“We encourage members of both the Simpson and Indianola community to have a team,” said Sollars. “Members of SAE just organize the event.”

Sollars said the fraternity hopes Simpson students and faculty and Indianola residents will stop in for the event, even if they’re not on a team.

“We encourage the campus to come and learn about the American Cancer Society,” said Sollars. “We’ve also had bands play in the past and lots of other types of entertainment.”

Members of the fraternity will also be sponsoring a pancake breakfast on Sunday morning in Cowles as part of the Relay For Life, which is open to anyone regardless of whether they participate in the relay.

During the Relay, members of SAE sell luminaries to people who want to either recognize others who have died of cancer or who are survivors of cancer. Walkers turn off the lights in Cowles and circle the gym while all the names are being read. The only light comes from the luminaries.

“This is a pretty emotional time for everybody who is there,” said SAE member Justin Johnson. “Everyone who is walking around at that time has their own individual candle that they light.”

Johnson added, “It’s amazing to see people ranging from the age of 2 to the age of 90 who are affected by cancer.”