All Friday night, students could be seen walking the track at the College’s seventh annual Relay for Life.
Relay for Life began in 1985 when Gordy Klatt walked and ran around a track in Tacoma, WA for 24 straight hours to raise $27,000 for the American Cancer Society. From this first effort, Relay for Life has spread to be a nationally recognized and widely-held philanthropy event that raises millions of dollars for the American Cancer Society to use in its fight against cancer. The organization spread onto college campuses in 2001 when the American Cancer Society began Colleges Against Cancer to raise support amongst college students.
F&M’s local chapter began in 2005 and in the last two years has received the Leader of Hope award for outstanding performance in its fundraising and advocacy efforts. Since the group’s inception, it has had over 5000 participants at its annual relay, honored over 250 survivors, and raised over $263,000 for the American Cancer Society.
This year, Relay for Life raised around $62,500 and had over 700 registered participants. As part of the opening ceremony, over 10 survivors and virtual survivors were honored for their successful fights, and those that were not so fortunate were remembered in the survivors lap around the track.
Over the course of the night, there was a vast array of activities in which participants engaged. The events ranged from pie-eating contests to piñatas and even a limbo competition. There were also performances by the all-student a cappella groups as well as a duet performed by Matthew Haller ’14 and Kelly Kennedy ’04, director of College programs. The walkers were treated to food donations from local businesses and snacks provided by catering, which were bought by student-donated meal swipes. The office of the president donated coffee and tea to power the walkers through the all-night event.
As part of an initiative that began last year, 34 girls donated their hair to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths Program, which uses natural hair to make wigs for women who have lost theirs as a result of chemotherapy treatments. All of the haircuts were provided by Luxe Salon, and all of the donors received gift baskets with hair accessories and coupons to the salon.
In addition to the survivor lap and the Pantene Beautiful lengths, there was also the Luminaria ceremony. This is a signature event of Relays around the nation. It is an event to remember those who succumbed to cancer and involves lining the track with candles in white bags known as luminary bags. At the Luminaria ceremony, two students, Christina Kapalko ’16 and Sarah Strong ’14, spoke about their families’ experiences with cancer and David Schulyer, the faculty advisor of F&M’s Colleges Against Cancer, gave an impromptu speech thanking students for taking the time to care about the fight against cancer.
Finally, trophies were provided to Alpha Delta Pi sorority, Kappa Sigma fraternity, and the women’s soccer team for raising $4900, $4620, and $4675, respectively.
Students, faculty, and staff helped raise a significant amount of money to support the fight against cancer at one of the school’s largest philanthropic events.
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