Relay For Life sees fewer teams, donations

Katie Eder

Approximately 600 students participated in the seventh annual Relay for Life, which was sponsored by the American Cancer Society, Villanova and Colleges against Cancer, and was held in the Pavilion from 7 p.m. on April 17 to 7 a.m. on April 18.

There was a decrease in both teams and donations from last year, when $59,370.30 was fundraised by 74 teams. The Villanova Relay for Life chairs have made it their goal to raise at least $10,000 more by August from online donations in order to make this year’s total about $60,000, as well.

Months before the event, students were invited to form teams and to fundraise. This year there were 61 teams, each consisting of two to 15 students in total, and by 7 a.m., $47,354.86 was raised for the fight against cancer.

Team captains, as well as individuals who were able to raise at least $100 prior to the event, were given T-shirts that said: “Pull an All Nighter! Relay — the Largest Co-Ed Sleepover.”

Relay for Life incorporated different types of contests, games and activities to keep everyone occupied for the entire 12 hours. This year’s theme was “Imagine a World with More Birthdays.”

“We came up with the celebration theme as a committee to keep the event as new and exciting as possible,” said Giana Bistany, the co-chair of recruitment for Relay 2010. “We started a ‘points system’ this year to make the contests more competitive and get more teams involved throughout the night.”

From 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., each hour represented a different holiday, including Halloween and Easter, but beginning and ending with “birthday.” 

To entertain the participants who were taking a break from walking laps at any point in the night, a wide variety of activities was scheduled to coordinate with each of the holidays. 

Activities included a “Thriller” dance lesson, a bobbing for apples contest, gingerbread house decorating and pictures with Santa for Christmas. The most popular contest of the night was Quest, where teams were sent on random missions that included singing the “Barney” theme song and doing cart-wheels along the entire length of the track.

An inflatable boxing ring, food and Red Bull energy drinks were available throughout the night. Villanova University Tech Crew kept the crowd awake with upbeat music for the entire event.

Throughout the night, three ceremonies were held to honor those who have survived or died from cancer.

For the Survivor and Caregiver Ceremony, Joan Capolupo, an adjunct faculty member of the education and human services department who has been cancer-free for five years, gave a keynote speech about her personal battle with cancer. She said she could not have gotten through it without the help of her family, faith and friends.

The Luminaria Ceremony honored those who have died from cancer. Everyone, including non-participants, was invited to buy luminaria, candles placed in small paper bags, in honor of a deceased family member or friend. The candles lined the whole track.

Luminaria were lit on the bleachers to spell out the word “hope” in honor of those who have survived or died from cancer. Participants stepped onto the track at different times to support a parent, grandparent, relative or friend. Everyone walked in silence around the track while the names of those honored through luminaria were read.

The three teams that raised the most money for Relay for Life were We’re the Three Best Friends That Anyone Could Have, Alpha Phi and Above Average.

Alpha Phi team member Montanna Herdemian, who raised $1,736 and was the top participant in Relay for Life, talked about her mother’s two-and-a-half-year struggle with cancer and said her mother’s death has given her inspiration to fight back against cancer. 

To fundraise for the event, most team members sent out e-mails to everyone they knew and included a link to their team’s fundraising page on their Facebook profiles.

“We started fundraising in February and told everyone on the team not to be afraid to ask everyone they knew for a donation,” said freshman Mackenzie Seiffert, team captain of We’re the Three Best Friends That Anyone Could Have, which raised $4,213 in total.