Each year, more than four million people around the world join together to raise essential funds and awareness for cancer research through the Relay for Life movement. This past weekend, the Slippery Rock community helped contribute to the cause during the university’s annual hosting of the 12-hour event in the Morrow Field House.
Originated in Tacoma, Washington, Relay for Life was conceived by the late Dr. Gordan Klatt who at the time was participating in the 1985 24-hour Run Against Cancer event. Klatt, who had spent 24 hours and ran a total of 83.6 miles circling the Baker Stadium track at the University of Puget Sound, wanted to organize an event that would garnish even more community involvement. In 1986, Klatt’s vision became a reality as 19 teams raised more than $33,000 for the very first Relay for Life event. Today, the event has raised more than five billion dollars to date and takes place in over 20 countries.
This past Saturday, Slippery Rock University welcomed the event with dozens of campus and community organizations, those of which contributed to the cause and raised funds for the American Cancer Society. The event, which in previous years ran from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., was originally set to run from noon to midnight, but ran until 10 p.m. due to poor attendance.
Senior early childhood special education major and recruitment director for Relay for Life Alex Nietert said the ultimate fundraising goal this year is $48,000, which has decreased, compared to last year’s ultimate goal of $50,000.
The ultimate fundraising goal in 2013 was $75,000.
“In order to reach this goal, all teams are doing on-site fundraising today and have been doing prior fundraising through email and social media,” Nietert said.
With about $21,000 already raised in pre-event fundraising, Nietert said he is confident they will reach this year’s ultimate goal.
According to SRU’s Relay For Life Twitter page, the total amount raised was $30,000. The low amount of money raised was a result of conflicting events on Saturday, such as the pig roast and the campus clean-up, which resulted in low attendance at the event.
Participating groups offered a variety of both conventional and unconventional fundraising activities.
Dumbledore’s Army was selling virgin butter beers for one dollar, Reese’s broomstick treats for one dollar and polyjuice potions for 75 cents. The organization was also charging people one dollar to have their picture taken with various Harry Potter themed props. The photos are uploaded to social media using the hashtag #DAatRelay.
Jail and Bail, the event that generated the most fundraising last year, returned this year as a unique way for people to donate. Conducted by the SRU Parks and Recreation Society, the game lets individuals donate any amount in order to have their friend locked in a jail cell for 20 minutes. If the chosen friend wishes to be let free before the allotted time period, he or she must match the donated amount.
Senior parks and recreation major Travis Wilson said the role-play is a yearly favorite among donors and that unfortunately, the organization can only jail friends who are present at the Relay for Life event.
Other fundraising activities included a shortened version of the popular MTV show, “Silent Library,” by the American Sign Language Club, massages offered by the physical therapy department, a ruck competition by the Army ROTC and various baked goods and food from multiple organizations.
Around 8 p.m., hundreds of glowing bags were lined around the track for the Luminaria Ceremony which seeks to honor those who are fighting and those who have lost the battle to cancer. Community members showed their support by writing personal messages on the bags which illuminated the track and signified the courage, passion and strength of those affected by the disease.