By Jessica Fetrow
This year’s annual Relay for Life at the Catholic University of America raised more than $35,500 to be donated towards cancer research and care for those affected by cancer through the American Cancer Society. The event, which was held on Friday, April 5 from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. in the Pryz Great Rooms, was hosted by the student organization Colleges Against Cancer.
This year’s Relay for Life brought in over 400 Catholic University students to come together for a night of fun, prayer, and fundraising in an effort to end cancer. More than 350 students pre-registered for the event, with about 50 others registering at the door. The Relay e-board attributes this unprecedented turnout with the relay being held indoors this year, unlike in past years.
Participants were entertained by performances by student organizations such as Red Line, Take Note, FOCUS, Clovers, and CUA Gaels, among several others, while circling laps around the Great Rooms. Participants were encouraged to sing along with the performances and participate in other events, such as Zumba. Some individuals from student organizations, such as SGA, as well as other around campus were pied in the face. Several tributes were given at this year’s Relay for Life, and collective prayers were offered for those affected by cancer.
Plans for this year’s event have been in the works since this past summer. An e-board of 11 people was led by this year’s director, Sarah Harrigan, a junior history and secondary education double major, and co-director Abby Leary, a sophomore theology and anthropology double major. Both place a strong importance on Relay because of their personal experiences with cancer. Harrigan, from Bridgewater, Massachusetts, participated in Relay in honor of her Uncle John, who passed away from cancer when she was in the 8th grade. Leary, from Babylon, New York, relayed for her younger sister, who has been in remission for 12 years.
“It makes me so happy that Catholic University was able to support the mission beyond our goal this year,” Leary said. “Colleges Against Cancer wishes for more people to have the opportunity to fight back and overcome a cancer diagnosis. This is accomplished through funding and research.”
“These funds go to unique research and clinical trials that truly make a difference! In 2006, my sister was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma,” Leary said. “Because of the clinical trial that she was placed on, she went into remission and has been cancer free for 12 years!”
Student organizations were provided with tents and tables at the event, depending on how much was raised by each organization. Kappa Tau Gamma, Orientation Advisers, and Redline Acapella were granted tents at the event, while ten organizations— The House, the Tower, Kappa Sigma, Dance Co, Knights of Columbus, Gaels, Program Board, Focus, Alpha Delta Gamma, College Republicans— were given tables. These tents and tables provided games and activities for students to participate in. The night was full of giveaways and raffle prizes, with items such as a T.J. Oshie autograph, Nationals tickets, and a Fitbit being raffled off to participants throughout the night.
The Program Board team leader, junior nursing major Cara Midwinter, was one of the relayers and student organizers at this year’s event.
“I think it is incredible that college students have the opportunity to gather together to fight for a cure,” Midwinter said. “So many people are impacted by cancer, whether it be a family member or a friend, and to have the chance to together honor those people that are fighting or have fought this terrible disease is amazing.”
Relay for Life is a fundraising campaign which has raised over $410 million as of August 2018, which goes towards finding a cure for cancer, as well as funding support efforts for families affected by cancer. Relay began in 1985, after Dr. Gordon “Gordy” Klatt walked more than 83.6 miles in 24 hours in Tacoma, Washington, in an effort to raise money towards cancer research. Klatt’s effort raised $27,000 through pledges, with a formal Relay for Life event stating the next year in 1986, with 19 teams participating in the first Relay for Life event, raising $33,000. Applications for the next board for CUA’s Relay for Life in 2020 will open within the next week on the Nest. Individuals interested in donating to American Cancer Society can do so through the American Cancer Society’s website.