Relay for Life begins short of initial goal

One of UNC's largest student fundraisers hopes to reach a milestone this weekend by topping $1 million in UNC's fight against cancer.

The seventh annual Relay for Life is expected to see more than 1,300 students participate. Activities kick off at 6 p.m. today in an opening ceremony and last until 2 p.m. Saturday.

Relay for Life is an annual nationwide event in support of the American Cancer Society.

Since the first relay in 1985, the event has spread to about 4,800 communities and universities across the U.S. and eight foreign countries.

Teams must keep at least one person walking around the Fetzer Field track at all times.

There are 135 teams of 15 registered at UNC, short of the goal of 200 set this fall. Committee members also hoped to raise about $180,000 to meet the $1 million goal.

The organization needs a big last-minute push to meet that mark. As of 7:30 p.m. Thursday $101,814.71 has been reported, according to the American Cancer Society.

"We're hoping by the end of the event on Saturday that we can say for sure that we have raised $1 million," said Mark Shifflet, event co-chairman.

Relay for Life raises money by sponsoring concerts and other events throughout the school year, as well as seeking donations from race participants and the general public.

Last year the event raised a record $220,000 with 123 teams.

But despite not meeting participation goals, UNC Relay for Life event co-chairwoman Amy Bugno said that the fundraiser's visibility and overall participation has grown considerably throughout the years.

"We're hoping to keep that progress going," she said. "Even though last year was a super successful event, it'll be a challenge."

Bugno said many staples of the event - such as the luminary ceremony to remember people who have died from cancer - will remain unchanged.

But the American Cancer Society's new motto "Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back!" will add a new focus on activism to the event, Bugno said.

Other activities include a drag show, a Miss Relay beauty pageant and a number of UNC music and dance groups.

Bugno said that the event serves a number of functions for the campus community but that she hopes participants this year can take away the event's larger picture and purpose.

"We want people to leave Relay and know they are making a difference and to continue making a difference, to know that their efforts don't end on 2 p.m. Saturday," she said.

"People need to be thinking about this and working toward this regularly and not just once a year."

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Time: 6 p.m. today to 2 p.m. Saturday
Location: Fetzer Field


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