Rallying for Relay

Kyra Miller spoke at Relay for Life last Saturday in memory of her father

By on April 16, 2014

Kyra Miller smiled as she began to deliver her speech at the Relay for Life opening ceremony in remembrance of her father, Chris Miller, who passed away from colon cancer last summer.

Kyra is a junior public relations major from Chatham, N.J. This year was her seventh Relay, and she served as the Mission and Advocacy Committee and Survivorship chairperson on the Relay for Life executive board.

The event took place at the TD Bank Sports Center on Friday, April 11, and lasted until Saturday morning. Kyra thanked everyone for supporting the American Cancer Society before telling her story.

Kyra described her father as her “superhero.”

“My dad’s constant positive outlook on life has motivated me to be a stronger person, to get involved in things, and to do the things that I wanted to do when I wanted to do them,” Kyra said before the event. “It makes you realize how short life is.”

Kyra’s grandfather passed away from brain cancer in 2005, and her grandmother survived ovarian cancer. Four years ago, Kyra’s father was diagnosed, and now her godfather is fighting colon cancer.

“Kyra was strong, brave, loving, responsible and tirelessly caring for her dad and me,” said Gayle Miller, Kyra’s mother. “Her smiles brought us through the toughest times in our lives.”

Junior psychology major Sydney Reichin, Kyra’s big in Phi Sigma Sigma sorority, stayed with Kyra’s family for a week after her father’s passing and has shown endless support.

“All I wanted was to be by her side,” Reichin said. “Her family is absolutely amazing. I know at first she would get so frustrated when people would say, ‘You’re so strong,’ because she didn’t think she would be. She was wrong. She’s proven to be one of the strongest people I know.”

Reichin, many sisters of Phi Sigma Sigma and Kyra’s family members attended Relay to support Kyra and honor their loved ones.

“[My dad] was a big push for me to become more involved with [Relay] and for it to become a passion of mine,” Kyra said. Kyra and her mother have benefitted from the supportive community of Relay.

“Anyone who is involved in Relay weaves the loss and healing of their experience with cancer into their life’s tapestry and into the community’s tapestry,” Gayle said. “It is really beautiful to be a part of that.”

One of Kyra’s favorite moments at Relay is the Luminaria Ceremony, where glowsticks illuminated paper bags dedicated to loved ones affected by cancer. Kyra said she also appreciates the Survivor Lap, because Relay for Life is dedicated to celebrating their lives.

“All the survivors take the first lap while everyone else claps,” Kyra said. “It’s so healing to see, because I have been on the side of the caregivers, pushing my dad in a wheelchair around the lap.”

Kyra’s mother also enjoys the Survivor Lap and says she is proud of Kyra’s work with Relay this year.

“There is nothing like the Survivor and Caregiver laps, with all of the love and energy that is given and received,” Gayle said. “Even though it was difficult for Kyra to be Chair of Survivors, because her father was not on the list this year, she found just as much joy, love and healing in celebrating the survivors, which included her godfather.”

Nearly 900 participants collectively raised over $67,000 for the American Cancer Society.

Kyra said her involvement with Relay and the executive board gives her a sense of accomplishment.

“[Kyra] has raised so much money, and so much awareness,” Reichin said. “I know this girl is going to do big things. Her dad would be so proud of everything she’s accomplished; I know I am.”

By the end of her speech on Friday, Kyra was in tears.

“If you take one thing away from my speech, let it be this. Tell the ones you love that you love them every single day. Don’t ever let them forget it,” Kyra said in conclusion. “Daddy, I love you, all of it.”

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About Jeanette Cibelli

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Sociology Major, Media Studies and Psychology Minor
Class of 2017