Written by Olivia Sothoron.
On Friday, Feb. 28, St. Mary’s College of Maryland’s (SMCM) chapter of Relay for Life held its eleventh annual Relay for Life event in the Michael P. O’Brien Athletic and Recreation Center from 6pm to 12am. The event is held to raise money for and honor those affected by cancer. In total the Relay for Life team raised $8,812.78 for the American Cancer Society.
Throughout the night, participants walked around the rec courts in honor of those affected by cancer and enjoyed various events placed throughout the gym. Food and entertainment were both provided, including food catered by Bon Appetit and outside vendors. In addition, the rock wall was open for the duration of the event and people were able to enjoy that if they wanted to take a break from their laps.
Joanne Goldwater, Associate Dean for Retention and Student Success, has been involved in every Relay for Life held at SMCM since the first time the event was held in March 2010. This event is close to Goldwater’s heart, who was diagnosed with breast cancer six months after participating in the first year of Relay for Life at SMCM.
Goldwater remarked that the level of enthusiasm from the committee was great this year, as they received support from students in all departments who put aside their lives to help the cause. The event was co-chaired by Victoria Chang (‘20) and Davita Fennell (‘20). Committee members included Angie Draheim, Danny Capasso (‘20), Abbey Clements (‘21), Cady Gorsak (‘22), Dianna Greene (‘22), and Claire Lyhus (‘22) and American Cancer Society Partner, Jermell Stills.
One difference between this year’s event and past events is that the Relay for Life team decided to host the event on a Friday night, when it has typically been held on Saturdays. However, there were still many teams to participate in fundraising, bringing together students from various organizations across campus to support a common cause. Some of the student teams included Psyched for Life, Glendening Hall Fights Cancer, The Nightingale A cappella, Interchorus, All Night For The Fight, LGBTQ+ Student Services, SMCM Hawkettes, SMCM Rowing, SMCM Equestrian Club, Pre-Med Club and SMCM Women’s Basketball. Some of the teams also performed for the event, including Hawkettes, Interchorus and TNA.
The teams that raised the most money were Psyched for Life, All Night For The Fight, and SMCM Hawkettes. The three individuals who raised the most money were Angie Draheim, Aileen Bailey, and Alyssa Heintzelman. Altogether, the total funds raised specifically on the night of the event was $1,168.54.
Goldwater remarked that her favorite part of the event is always the Jail-and-Bail activity and the Stuck for a Buck exercise. The parts of the night that mean the most to her, however, are the survivor lap at the beginning of the night and the luminaria ceremony to honor those impacted by cancer. “It is very important to me to have the opportunity to celebrate being a Survivor during the opening lap.” She continued, “It is equally important for all of us who participate in Relay to honor loved ones who fought the disease and remember those who lost their battle during the Lums ceremony.” This part of the night also features a guest speaker. The guest speaker for the 2020 event was Kristina Norgard (‘22), who spoke about being her mother’s caregiver. Goldwater noted that Norgard’s speech was “very moving.”
Chang stated that she considers this year’s event to be extremely successful. She said, “Everything seemed to go very smoothly and people looked like they were having a good time!” She also explained that her favorite part of the night was being taped to the wall during the Stuck for a Buck event. As a graduating senior, Chang hopes that SMCM can carry on the tradition of Relay for Life and continue supporting the American Cancer Society. She stated, “Hopefully people can see that even just by participating in our event or helping to raise awareness that everyone can make a huge impact for those who are suffering or have suffered from cancer.”
The event is sure to return to SMCM next year for its twelfth time on campus. Goldwater hopes that in future years, the event will continue to receive growing support from the campus community. She explained, “Almost everyone is touched by cancer, whether by a relative, neighbor, friend, or they have bravely fought cancer themselves.”