On April 15, Lees-McRae College raised $3,922 for the American Cancer Society during the College's seventh annual mini Relay for Life fundraiser.
Each year, Lees-McRae chooses to host a "mini-relay," which means the event lasts for six hours (6 p.m. to midnight) instead of the traditional 24 hour format. In these six hours, more than $2,691 was raised with 200 students in attendance. This total doesn't include money from corporate sponsorship and some money from teams that is still being submitted.
The night was kicked off with a short introduction by Justin Kitts, Director of Campus Life and Recreation and Relay Committee Coordinator, thanking students for participating and explaining what Relay for Life is and the format for the evening.
"I brought in some outside entertainment to help raise additional funds the night of the event. Entertainment included a large inflatable surf simulator, custom screen printed t-shirts, wax hands, granulated candle art, airbrush tattoos, and even caricatures," said Kitts. "I wanted to give students and community members an assortment of entertainment options to help raise additional money for Relay on the night of the event."
Outside of the entertainment provided, there were seventeen student clubs represented. Each club had their own booth and/or entertainment for the night, and it covered a whole range of activities. There were video games, face painting, build your own trail mix, Kinect dance competitions, corn hole, spoons tournaments, cake walks, silent auctions, and even a jail.
The concept of the jail/bail program was interesting. As a participant you could pay to have someone put in jail and then others could help bail that person out. "In the hustle and bustle of the event I was surprised when one of my student leaders escorted me to jail until my bail was paid. One would think that with having a cell phone you would be able to find someone to pay your bail quickly, but the students like to see their administrators squirm," said Kitts.
The most powerful part of the evening was the luminaries lap. For those not familiar with Relay for Life, the luminaries are made in memory of cancer survivors, their families, caregivers, and for those we have been lost to cancer.
The luminaries are traditionally made in paper bags with a glow stick to provide light. Our American Cancer Society Community Manager, Kathlene Stith, introduced the luminary lap while staff and student leaders set up the luminaries and cut off the lights in the area. The lap was done in complete silence and you could have heard a pin drop in Evans Auditorium.
After the lap everyone was gathered in the back of the auditorium and I gave the group an opportunity to share about how cancer had affected their lives. Students and staff shared stories of loss and of hope and there wasn't a dry eye in the crowd.
Overall, Relay for Life was a great success at Lees-McRae College. It was a success not just because it raised money for cancer research, but because we were able to educate students on cancer.
"Relay for Life will be coming back next year, and I am going to be working hard with students, faculty, and staff even earlier so that we can make the event bigger and support the fight against cancer," said Kitts.
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