On Saturday, Mar. 27, the College held its very first Relay for Life Event in the recreation courts of the Michael P. O’Brien Athletics and Recreation Center. The event raised $18,593.08 for the American Cancer Society.
“[Relay for Life] is the largest fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Usually it’s an all night event but we had a little mini event that lasted six hours,” said the Relay for Life event co-chair, first-year Elise Valkanas.
According to the American Cancer Society “Relay for Life is a life-changing event that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease.”
Senior Erika Kenny headed the Relay for Life event here at the College and began it here in honor of a friend who had passed away. “I wanted to have Relay for Life here in honor of my friend Nic. He died from cancer two years ago, just five days before his 21st birthday. It was so special for me to bring Relay for Life to St. Mary’s because Nic was accepted and planning to come here as a student, before he got really sick,” said Kinney.
The first St. Mary’s Relay was held indoors instead of in the traditional outdoor venue. After a lot of consideration, we decided on the six-hour mini-Relay mainly because we were in a time crunch. “ACS contacted me at the end of the fall semester, but we didn’t get started until we came back from winter break. The other committee members and I definitely had our work cut out for us with only three months of planning,” said Kinney. Not having enough time to plan seems to have definitely been a set back for the committee in organizing this event. “One of the big problems was the snow,” said online chair, sophomore Samantha White.
Part of the preparation for Relay was to find corporate sponsors, something that the girls on the committee found exceedingly hard, especially considering they had a limited amount of time to pull the event together. “[The] only main problem was getting corporate sponsors in such a short amount of time,” said Public Relations Chair, junior Alex Levy. In the end, The Relay for Life Committee was able to find corporate sponsorship from Dominos Pizza, Absolute Party Rental, Olive Garden, True Value, Wild Bird Centers of America, and Bon Appétit.
To keep participants busy and having fun, the Committee organized games and events for the Relay teams to partake in. “ [We wanted] to keep people moving for six hours in the gym and make it fun but also keep their minds on cancer,” said committee co-chair, first-year Olivia Marzano. The committee organized games, door prizes, and even a Miss Relay pageant. “The Miss Relay Pageant is where the guys dressed up as girls and in that we ended up raising $85.00,” said Levy.
Before the Relay began, there was a Luminaria Ceremony. Students, faculty, and community members were able to buy a Luminaria and have it lit at the ceremony. “This part of the ceremony is where you remember the people who’ve lost their battle with cancer or are fighting the battle against cancer,” said Luminaria Chair, first-year Kristin Hay.
Overall, the Relay brought out 22 teams and 170 participants. The top teams were Seahawks for a Cure, raising $3,584; TeamAlphaAwesomeCoolDynamiteWolfSquandron, raising $2,746; Psyched for Life, raising $2,440; Hawkettes, raising $1,871.72; LQ19, raising $1,856. The top individual earners were Chelsea McGlynn, raising $2117; Joanne Goldwater, raising $1,735; Samantha White, raising $1,032; Anina Tardif-Douglin, raising 1,000; Angie Draheim, raising $810. The committee fulfilled their goal of having sixteen teams and raising $15,000.
Next year the committee hopes to begin planning earlier and have a full 24-hour Relay. Students interested in being on the committee helping plan should contact Elise Valkanas or Olivia Marzano.