Last year, UC Davis Relay for Life raised over $130,000 for the American Cancer Society, earning the title of top college relay in Northern California for the fifth time.
This year, UCD Relay organizers aim to out-do themselves.
“Our goal is $200,000 this year – that would be the most we’ve ever made,” said Chelsea Fahr, Relay for Life co-chair.
Relay for Life is a 24-hour marathon event spanning 10 a.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday at Toomey Field. UC Davis‘ Colleges Against Cancer, a student division of the American Cancer Society (ACS), organizes the event annually.
“Relay is for a great cause – the American Cancer Society does so much work for research, cures and treatment, as well making cancer patients more comfortable and giving them the information they need while battling [the illness],” said Joey Diel, Relay for Life online chair.
UC Davis Relay has already surpassed their goal of registering 180 teams – currently over 200 have registered. And it’s not too late for students to grab up to 15 of their friends and participate in the relay.
Diel said online registration is ongoing until Friday at noon. Although online registration is preferred, students can also sign-up the day of at the registration booth at Toomey Field.
“The amount of growth we’ve seen from last year is just enormous,” said Kristen Lohse, Relay for Life co-chair. “Last year, we had about 165 teams – [we’ve increased by] over 40 teams in one year.“
Fahr said that every participant is encouraged to raise a minimum of $100.
“If we could have everybody do that, it would bring us that much closer to our goal,” she said.
Although those participating in the marathon itself must register, Relay for Life is open to the public and everyone is welcome and encouraged to come during the day, Lohse said. (Only those in registered teams may be on the field at night, however).
“At Relay, you’re going to see a ton of tents and campsites and a ton of people [out on the field],” Fahr said. “A lot of teams actually do on-site fundraising, such as [having] bake sales.“
The event will feature food, entertainment and ceremonies throughout the day, including the opening ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday where cancer survivors make their first lap around the track, the Luminaria ceremony at 9 p.m., and the Closing/Fight back Ceremony at 9 a.m. Sunday.
Luminaria, also known as the Ceremony of Hope, is a favorite of many, including Fahr.
“It’s a time during the event in which we remember those we have lost, and also honor those who have survived or are still battling hard,” she said. “It’s a time to bring hope to those who are [still fighting].“
White bags containing a candle line the outside of the track – each with the name of someone who has been affected by cancer.
“[The track’s] absolutely beautiful at night,” Fahr said.
Bags can be purchased at the event, Fahr said. The Lumaria Committee will be near the stage all day; suggested donation is $10.
Lohse noted that Relay for Life fundraising doesn’t stop April 5 – all money donated to Relay through July 31 will go to the 2009 event total.
Lohse encourages everyone to come out to the event.
“I think the word is getting out – I expect a lot more people to come [than last year],” she said. “The reason we have the title [of best college relay in the state] is because of the dedication and support from our peers. It’s an honor to have it.“
Visit relayforlife.org/ucdavisca for more information or to register a team.
ANNA OPALKA can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.