The lights were dimmed as people walked around the track at Relay for Life, dropping glowsticks into Luminaria bags to honor and remember friends and family in the fight against cancer. It was a powerful moment in the night, a sobering reminder of the purpose of the night.
At Boston College’s ninth annual Relay For Life event on Friday night, over 1,500 participants from 126 teams raised about $133,000 for the American Cancer Society.
Held in the Flynn Recreation Complex, the 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. all-nighter featured emotional testimonials from cancer survivors and loved ones, as well as some entertainment from a hypnotist, singers, and the Dance Organization of Boston College (DOBC).
Since its inception, BC Relay For Life has raised over $1 million, making it one of the top 15 collegiate Relay events in the country. Relay, whose slogan is “Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back,” is the American Cancer Society’s main fundraising tool.
The donations period stays open until August, so sponsors can continue to donate until the planning period for next year’s Relay starts. Relay is also DOBC’s designated charity, so depending on how the group does in competition the winnings will be added to the fundraising total. Last year, BC Relay raised about $157,000. Organizers hope this year’s total will eventually reach $150,000.
“The focus of the event is more on remembrance and celebration rather than sadness and melancholy.”
—Kat Murphy, MCAS ’18
Teams set up stations in the basketball court area of the Plex, and the track runs around the edge of the courts. Donors sponsor the teams, who raise money throughout the year and commit to having at least one team member at all times walking the track for the 12 hours.
Kat Murphy, MCAS ’18, participated in the event last year and said that this year was an improvement, particularly with the comedy group Asinine.
“The focus of the event is more on remembrance and celebration rather than sadness and melancholy,” she said in an email.
About $5,000 was raised during the event itself, much of it through donations made directly to teams and day-of registration. BC Relay also partnered with about 25 outside sponsors for the event, including the Boston Red Sox and Chipotle. At BC, the event is run by three event chairs who oversee 10 subcommittees. Altogether, about 70 students help to organize BC Relay.
Claire Ritten, one of the three event chairs and LSOE ’16, said that the point of the overnight schedule is to mirror a cancer patient’s journey from diagnosis to recovery—night to day.
One of the speakers at the event was Kelley Tuthill, a news reporter for the local TV outlet WCVB. Tuthill was 36 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She received aggressive treatment and entered remission in 2007.
“I’m living proof that research is what saves lives,” Tuthill said in the interview. “It’s not some abstract concept.”
Featured Image by Savanna Kiefer / Heights Editor