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Second-annual Relay for Life raises cancer research funds

Mary Kate Malone | Friday, September 17, 2004

For 16 hours this weekend, the Notre Dame community will come together to honor and remember victims of cancer under the banner of Relay for Life: “Fighting Irish Fighting Cancer”.

For the second year, the nationwide fundraiser comes to the Stepan Center to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

Last year organizers were pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of donations and participation, and raised over $65,000 – $35,000 over the initial goal.

The campaign has only gained momentum this year, and with 51 teams totaling over 1,400 participants, the event promises to make a significant contribution to cancer research. According to Relay for Life faculty co-chair Jessica Brookshire, this year’s goal of raising $80,000 has already been met and exceeded.

Organizers have attributed this year’s success to the creative fundraising efforts of the various teams on campus.

The biology team, which is the largest team fielding over 300 participants, held the “Pie in Your Face” contest last Friday night. With a donation of $1 students could throw a pie at the top six money makers from Biological Science. Other teams sold apple pies, mums, and cardboard trash bins for tailgaters on Saturday.

Many of the students involved with Relay for Life participate because cancer has affected someone close to them.

“Cancer has deeply affected my family and I feel that this is one small way that I can help others who are battling this disease,” said Michele Taets, a Notre Dame student and campus-wide coordinator of the event.

Teams consist of Notre Dame faculty staff and students. Notre Dame organizations fielding teams range from PILLARS club to Notre Dame firefighters. The diversity of the clubs reflects the unifying effect of Relay for Life.

“It is the only event I know of where faculty and students come together for a common cause” said Brookshire. “It is amazing to see how small teams can come together and do so well. We had no idea how much energy people would put into this.”

Luminaries were distributed to participants earlier this week. With a donation of $5, participants can decorate the luminaries in honor of someone who has faced cancer. They will line the perimeter of the Stepan Center.

Event organizers have filled the night with activities to encourage participants to stay for the full 16 hours. Most teams coordinate schedules for the evening so that at least one member of their team is walking at all times. This allows other participants to enjoy the various activities planned for the evening. A dunk tank will be on site, and hayrides will be given throughout the campus from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. In addition, the Science Observatory will be open from 8 p.m. until 12 a.m. to view the stars. The Mr. Relay Pageant will begin at 11 p.m.

Even if students have not registered they are encouraged to attend. Registration tables will be open during the night and students are invited to stop by after their SYRs to roast marshmallows and go to “Dance around the Track” at 2 am.

The money raised for Relay for Life goes directly to the American Cancer Society. From there, it is distributed to various research institutions like Notre Dame.

“It will come full circle because the money funds research that takes place right here on campus. That really helps explain why Relay for Life is such a wonderful part of Notre Dame,” Brookshire said. “The power of Relay for Life is so hard to describe. You really have to be there to understand how special it is.”