Each year, the American Cancer Society hosts Relay for Life, a fundraiser held at community centers, high schools and colleges across the country to raise money for cancer research.
Relay for Life is currently the most profitable charity event in the world, according to the American Cancer Society. Each year, the event brings communities and families that have been touched by cancer together for a common goal.
This year, Relay for Life, which is hosted annually by Fairleigh Dickinson University, Drew University and The College of St. Elizabeth, will be held at Drew University on Friday, April 26, from 4 to 10 p.m.
At a typical Relay for Life event, families, friends, clubs and organizations create teams to participate in the event and camp out around a track.
At least one member from each team must be walking or running on the track at all times, so team members take turns throughout the event, hence creating a constant “relay.”
Because most Relay for Life events are 12 or more hours, and go on well into the night, these events usually feature a DJ, games and traditional activities like the lighting of luminaries, a ceremony that solemnly remembers those we have lost to cancer.
“During Relay for Life, paper bags are set-up, usually outside… and candles are placed inside each one. We take a lap in the dark and in silence for all the people whose names are the in the bags, that we love lost to cancer,” said senior Alexis Snyder, former president of Colleges Against Cancer, a student organization on campus that had a major role in the planning of last year’s event.
Another tradition done at Relay for Life is the Survivors’ Walk, where all the cancer survivors present take to the track for a victorious walk, celebrating the end of their fight against cancer.
The participating teams can claim an area of the gym, and decorate it however they like, and teams are allowed to fundraise throughout the night. Last year, the brothers of Tau Kappa Epsilon shaved their heads because their team was able to achieve their fundraising goal.
“There are also many friendly competitions going on through the night [between the teams], like [awards for] Top Fundraising Team, Best Theme for Your Team and Best Campsite,” said Snyder.
Last year’s event, held on campus in the Ferguson Recreation Center’s gym, featured all of this, and more. However, this year will bring many changes, the most noticeable being that this year’s event will be held at Drew University, and will only be a six-hour event.
“Because St. Elizabeth doesn’t have a gym, it is hosted at FDU twice, and then Drew one year,” said Samantha Moore, a senior in charge of public relations for CAC.
“Drew feels that when it is held [on their campus] most people tend to leave earlier,” said Snyder. “They feel there is no point in paying to keep their gym open for 12 hours if no one is going to stay the full time.”
Although Relay for Life is ultimately run by the American Cancer Society, every event is given a chair, and committee members working under the chair are responsible for putting the whole event together.
“Committee members ensure that everything is organized and executed, from recruiting and motivating teams and sponsors, to planning the ceremonies,” said Moore.
“Drew has a team [of students] together that are planning the whole event, and I’ve been in close contact with them the whole time,” said Christina Larkin, current president of CAC.
Although this year’s event isn’t being planned by any of FDU’s own, participants can expect a good time.
“We will be having the same fun events throughout the night, and the event schedule will be more jam-packed,” said Snyder.