UNC Relay for Life Raises $98,000

Fetzer Field was dark at 9 p.m. Friday night except for the light of more than 800 flickering candles. Lit in memory of cancer victims, they lined the track and spelled out the word "hope" on the bleachers.

The luminary ceremony was part of Relay for Life, a nationwide fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society that brought in $98,000 at UNC. The event consisted of team members taking turns walking laps around a track for 24 hours.

The local relay, organized by the health focus committee of the Campus Y, was held on Fetzer Field and lasted from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Saturday. This was the first time UNC hosted the local relay, and more than 1,200 people on 87 teams participated.

Freshman Brian Paler said that he wanted to participate because it was for a good cause and that he thought it would be fun. "I think this school has a good policy of taking things that are fun and things that are good for society and putting them together," he said.

Other participants, like freshman Janet Soper, said they wanted to honor cancer victims. "I had a friend who died from cancer before graduation last year," she said. "I joined the committee that helped to plan this event."

Some relay events, such as the Miss Relay pageant, focused on raising funds. The pageant's male contestants dressed in drag and had an opportunity to say something about themselves before spending the next half hour wandering around the crowd trying to collect money.

The 20 contestants raised almost $1,000 collectively, but prom-dress-clad professional student Byron Buckley won the event by collecting $155. He said he participated in the pageant to support his teammate, senior Katherine Wilson.

"She has lung cancer, so I was doing it for her," Buckley said. "She was really the motivator for the whole thing."

In addition to fund-raising events, all Relay for Life participants had the personal goal of raising $100 before the event, using any method of their choice.

Many teams chose to raise money at the event by selling things ranging from food to raffle tickets to massages. Members of the Alpha Kappa Delta Phi sorority raised $75 Friday night by selling spring rolls.

Teams also held fund-raising events before Relay for Life. Members of the Christian sorority Phi Beta Chi raised more than $500 with a car wash.

In addition, many Relay for Life participants also raised funds individually by asking for donations. Senior Emily Sellers raised $160 using this method.

"I asked friends, family and people in the community to donate money," she said. "I also got some donations from people in my hometown."

Senior Lindsay Anderson, one of the organizers of the relay at UNC, said the event raised about $98,000 for the American Cancer Society -- far exceeding the goal of $75,000.

"The teams we had this year were great," she said. "They worked really hard with their fund raising, and I was confident that we would beat our goal."

Aside from raising funds, some events paid tribute to cancer victims in alternative ways. Campus groups including the Loreleis and the Achordants performed, and an opening ceremony featured a speech from Jean Desaix, a UNC biology professor and cancer survivor.

Desaix spoke about the care and support she received from friends and family as she battled the disease and honored others at the relay who had done the same for other cancer victims.

"(The relay is) a festival of caring," she said. "It's caring for survivors, for those not with us, for cancer researchers."


The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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