Occurring in more than 20 countries around the world with more than four million participants, Relay for Life is an organized fundraising walk that honors the victims and celebrates the survivors of cancer. While students at New College have participated in Relay for Life in the past, a relay will occur on campus for the first time on Feb. 27. Coordinators have already started fundraising for the event.
The fundraiser has set a goal of $15,000. All money raised will go to the American Cancer Society. The Ringling College of Art & Design and University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee will also be participating in this fundraising event.
In the relay, teams camp out beside a track with at least one member of each team walking or running around the track at any given time. Relayers are provided food as well as opportunities for other games and activities during the event, which can last a traditional six hours up to a maximum of 24 hours. The goal is not only to spread awareness and raise money, but to enjoy doing it.
Currently, there is an all-out penny war among the three participating schools as a buildup to the Relay for Life. Three buckets are lined up in the Hamilton “Ham” Center, one for each college. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to fill up the bucket of whatever school they support with pennies. One penny equals one point. Whichever bucket has the most pennies will be deemed the winner.
“You can also reduce the other campuses points by adding higher value change,” Campus Life Coordinator Vanessa Van Dyke, who is coordinating the Relay for Life, explained in an email. “Put a nickel in the Ringling or USF-SM bucket and their score goes down by 5 points. A dime is -10 points, a quarter is -25 points, a dollar is -100 points, and so on…”
Van Dyke has plenty of experience with Relays in the past, one of which inspires her current participation. The luminary ceremony, which takes place during every Relay, is a time for people to honor survivors and victims to cancer. Paper bags are placed around the track in remembrance of someone. “My friend came across her bag and started getting emotional. I was able to be there to comfort her and that was really special for me.”
Nathan Burrage, assistant to the campus life coordinators, participated in Relay for Life in college. Burrage helped bring the relay to campus. “Relay is an opportunity to marvel at how small one individual really is in the world and to realize how much of a difference that one individual can make,” Burrage said. “It is amazing to me to think that even the smallest donations can help the cause. Relay is always fun, it is a very exciting and humbling experience and has made a real impression on me as an individual.”
First-year Erika Thompson, who participated in Relay for Life every year in high school, will be participating for the first time as a New College student. She hopes to help start a campus tradition. “Relay for Life became really personal for me when one of my good friends last year was diagnosed with cancer,” Thompson said. “He had to drop out of school and missed more than half of our senior year. His treatments were really expensive, but it was because of organizations like the American Cancer Society that he’s now cancer free!”
Students interested in joining Relay for Life are encouraged to stop by HCL during office hours (9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.) and talk to Burrage. “We are really trying to encourage individuals to get involved and are always open for questions,” he said.