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Relay for Life to be held in Stadium

CAITLYN KALSCHEUR | Friday, April 16, 2010

Rather than heading out to their usual Friday night festivities, the American Cancer Society (ACS) and Notre Dame’s own ACS club are hoping students will take the opportunity to participate in the Relay for Life, a symbolic overnight fundraiser for ACS, going on inside Gate E at Notre Dame Stadium from Friday night until Saturday morning.

“The Relay for Life is an all-night walk to symbolize the 24-hour fight people undergo when battling cancer,” Student Committee chair for the Relay for Life Adam Lamm said. “Notre Dame really is a family, and with our unique community, we wanted our own event.”

Participants create teams to walk with and focus their efforts on fundraising money to be donated to the ACS for cancer research. 

“There is ACS grant money being used here on campus, so it’s a neat way to bring it all full circle,” Assistant Director of University Events and Protocol Jessica Brookshire said.

Another incentive for students to raise money is that the best student fundraiser will receive a semester of free books and any team who raises $5,000 or more will get a VIP, all-access tour of the stadium after the event, Brookshire said.

Lamm said the Relay’s focus is “to celebrate those who have overcome cancer, to remember those who fought cancer, and to fight back to find a cure.”

Friday’s event will be Notre Dame’s sixth Relay for Life and its first at Notre Dame Stadium, Brookshire said. Previous years’ relays have taken place at Stepen and on South Quad, but they moved to the stadium “for bigger, better publicity,” Brookshire said. 

“The charges behind creating the event were to pull the whole university together and the stadium is a great place for that,” she said.

Drew McKenna, Intern with University Events and Protocol, said the open nature of the event makes the Relay of Life a true community event.

“It’s rare to have an event that’s open for everybody,” he said. “There are class or department events, but nothing is really open to everyone.  This is something all students, staff, and members of the community can participate in.”

Students should register in advance at relay.org/ndin, but are allowed to show up at Gate E of the stadium Friday night to register and participate. 

“We have events planned throughout the night,” Lamm said.

There will be an official opening ceremony at 6:30 p.m., and food and games for kids will be available throughout the night. Hacienda will also be hosting a midnight fiesta complete with games and chips and salsa.

Special events include football locker room tours available from 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. for $5 a person where participants can get a picture with the famous “Play Like a Champion Today” sign and a silent auction from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. with prizes like football tickets, memorabilia, and a Brian Kelley meet-and-greet.   

“The silent auction should be amazing,” Brookshire said.

Aside from hoping for good weather, McKenna hopes people take advantage of events like the locker room tour during the relay.

Participants can also make luminaries in honor of people who have fought with cancer that will be lit later in the night. 

Notre Dame is officially honoring a couple of its own during the event, with Sophomore Kelsey Thrasher, who has been recuperating from chemotherapy at home in Indianapolis, as the relay’s honorary student chair.  Rich O’Leary, a former lacrosse coach and the founder of the rugby program, is also being honored for his battle with cancer, which took his life last year, and his work at Notre Dame throughout his life. 

So far, the event has drawn 62 teams made up of more than 700 participants and expects to break attendance of 900 at the event.  Lamm said the Notre Dame community has already exceeded $500,000 in donations.