Relay For Life will take place on Friday, April 19, and Saturday, April 20, from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. Relay For Life at Virginia Tech is the largest collegiate Relay For Life event in the nation, and raises nearly half a million dollars for cancer research every year. Being that Relay is such a large occurance on campus, many students and members of the community choose to become involved. Being a part of planning such an event might seem daunting, but for Kira Dionne, it’s a fun challenge that benefits a great cause.
“It doesn’t seem like work,” Dionne said. “We’re having a lot of fun with it.”
Dionne, a sophomore studying national security and foreign affairs, originally became involved with Relay For Life in her hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina. After participating in Virginia Tech’s Relay For Life last year, she decided to get involved. She now serves as a member of the events committee.
In order to spread the word, those involved begin working soon after the school year begins. As early as October, committee members meet once a week to plan events that will help raise awareness and get people excited about Relay. Some of the events include an a capella riff-off; a workout week, which took place last semester during finals; and a percentage night at Moe’s, where 100% of the proceeds go to Relay For Life.
“It’s definitely a year-long process, because we have fundraising goals and the recruitment goals,” Dionne said. “So in order to be able to reach that, we need to get the word out to as many people as possible.”
Some of the most important people to reach are freshmen, because they are the least likely to be aware of Relay. Booths are placed around campus to make people aware of the upcoming event, and every committee member is required to take several shifts working in the booths.
Planning an event like Relay For Life might seem like a big time commitment, but Dionne said that the work is easier than it appears. Friendships can easily form between participants. “We do a lot of bonding together (on the events committee), so it’s a lot of fun because we get to know each other more.”
On the night of Relay, committee members stay for the entirety of the 12-hour event, and are allowed an hour-long break at any point during the night. Dionne’s committee is in charge of events like Silent Disco, Relay Olympics and the donut-eating contest. If participants have raised $200, they recieve a food pass and can eat the provided food, which is served in waves throughout the night.
Along with raising awareness, the big goal of Relay For Life is fundraising for the American Cancer Society. This year, its goal is $472,000. Many organizations and individuals on campus contribute, and committee members are encouraged to donate as well.
Like many who work on behalf of Relay For Life, Dionne has a personal connection with the event. “I Relay because my best friend’s mom was diagnosed with cancer,” Dionne said. Dionne was in elementary school at the time and this was her first experience with the illness. “I was the one with him when we found out she had passed. So it was just a really big impact on me at a pretty young age.”
Dionne knew that as soon as she arrived at Virginia Tech, she would take part in Relay For Life. Many others involved with Relay have stories like Dionne’s, and it makes the time and work put into the event worth it. “I Relay for that,” Dionne said. “I Relay for the hope of a cure.”