Revving up for the Relay

By Kate Leddy

Alex Lindsey/Daily Collegian
Alex Lindsey/Daily Collegian

Last year, over 14 million cases of cancer were reported throughout the world, according to the World Health Organization. At the University of Massachusetts, students are prepared to fight back and honor all of those who have had experience with cancer.

On Thursday evening, a Relay For Life promo event was held in Berkshire Dining Hall to raise awareness about the fundraiser and event that will take place at the end of April. “Help us make this cancer’s last century,” read a large sign facing students upon entry into the reserved room.

Relay For Life was started by The American Cancer Society as a chance to celebrate the people who have battled cancer, remember the lives lost and raise money for cancer research. It is an all-night event open to everyone in the Five Colleges and includes multiple ceremonies as well as music and entertainment throughout the Relay.

The official event will be taking place on April 25 at 6 p.m. on the UMass Track and Field Complex and will continue until 7 a.m. the next morning.

At the promo, students were encouraged to register a team or join one that has already been formed and begin raising money. So far, about 50 teams have already been registered in the Five College area and over $9,500 have been raised.

There was a booth that awarded prizes for various tasks such as guessing one of the committee member’s middle names, which offered a sneak peek into the games and entertainment that will take place at the Relay For Life event.

Julia McCrone, a senior at UMass and the event chair member for Relay For Life, spoke briefly to thank those who had volunteered so far and announce the committee’s goal to have 3,000 or more participants this year.

There are already about 350 people registered for the event and “the numbers have been going up pretty consistently,” said McCrone.

McCrone has been doing Relay For Life events since 7th grade and spoke highly of the charity. “It’s a really great cause and a fun event,” said McCrone, “and the Luminaria will make you cry.”

The Luminaria Ceremony takes place at dusk during the Relay For Life event. Donations are collected in the weeks leading up to the event for the luminaria, which are paper bags with candles placed inside of them. The names of cancer survivors or loved ones who lost a cancer battle are written on these paper lanterns, which are then placed around the track and remain lit throughout the night. It is one of multiple ceremonies that will take place to honor cancer victims.

Last year was the first year that Relay For Life was held at UMass, and about 2,000 students participated. “Some students feel like they don’t want to give up a Friday night, but it’s a great event,” said McCrone. “There are DJs and a cappella groups and so many people.”

“It’s like a huge overnight party on campus,” said Andrea Robbins, a specialist for the American Cancer Society and coordinator for the Relay.

The theme for this year’s event will be superheroes. The idea of the theme compares cancer survivors to superheroes and recognizes that “even superheroes can fall sometimes,” as said in a poster at the promo event.

Prizes will be awarded to participating teams depending on the amount of money they are able to raise. These prizes include t-shirts, bags and hats at the first few levels. According to a catalog that was passed out during the promo event, teams can win a Bluetooth Solo Speaker when they reach the “Jade Level”, which is achieved if a team raises $1,000-$2,499.

Committee members at the event also discussed ways that teams can help raise money for Relay For Life, such as bake sales and silent auctions.

For all of this information as well as registration forms, visit and the American Cancer Society page on Facebook.

“Every person has been touched by cancer in some way—everyone knows someone,” said Robbins. “Here we have a big event to fight it, and it’s awesome.”

Kate Leddy can be reached at [email protected]