Relay for Life tops fundraising goal

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Months of planning, weeks of excitement and generous donations from the Fairfield community helped Fairfield University’s Relay for Life team raise over $50,000 last Friday night.

Held in the Quick Jr. Recreation Complex field house, much work went into this year’s event, with the Relay committee and chairs preparing for every aspect of the night, from the opening ceremony, to the following festivities.

On Thursday before the event, one of the three chairs, Brian Alexander ‘15, reported that they had raised $40,000, just $2,000 shy of this year’s goal. By Friday afternoon they had reached their base goal of $42,000.

With the evening a success, Alexander said, “Everything went incredibly well. I am actually shocked – usually you can count on at least one thing to go wrong. Teams had awesome fundraisers and participants were so active.”

Last year’s Relay for Life event did not produce the funds or turnout co-chairs Alexander, Nicole Heller ‘13 and Kyle Scherer ’15 hoped for, raising only $28,000.

Relay for Life is an organized, overnight community fundraising walk. Those who want to participate form fundraising teams who take donations in the form of dollars pledge per lap.

While team members take turns walking or running around a track, food, games and other activities are usually provided to build camaraderie amongst participants.

A Nationwide Tradition

Relay for Life is not unique to Fairfield, but rather a nationwide organization.

Beginning in the 1980’s, colorectal surgeon Dr. Gordy Klatt, of Tacoma, Wash., wanted to enhance the income of his local American Cancer Society office, according to Relay for Life’s official website.

In May of 1985, Klatt spent 24 hours circling the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma.

He circled the track for 83 miles, and throughout the night nearly 300 of his friends, family and patients donated $25 each to run or walk with him for 30 minutes. In those 24 hours alone he raised $27,000 to fight cancer.

Due to the event’s success, months later, Klatt gathered 19 teams to take part in the event he called “The City of Destiny Classic 24-Hour Run Against Cancer.”

He raised $33,000.

Today, Klatt’s vision has turned into over 5,200 Relay for Life events across the country that have raised more than $4.5 billion in fundraising.

Success for Fairfield

Not only was Fairfield’s event simply a success financially, but Heller explained things went better than she, Scherer or Alexander could have ever imagined.

“Our participant number was higher than ever and people were having so much fun,” Heller said. “The best part of the night was at 5:30 a.m. when we needed $200 more to hit $50,000. We took one last lap to collect any last donations and counted in front of the 80 participants that were still there. In just that one lap we raised $500 and beat our goal. The celebration lap we took after that was so moving.”

The committee and chairs commenced with nothing but positive thoughts and gratitude to all who participated. “I always have a great time at Relay but this year was greater than anything I had ever expected,” Alexander said.

“It goes to show how a community can rally around a cause and make a difference. I will always remember the moment when we announced that we had raised $50,000 and celebrated as a group that we had broken the record. We truly did celebrate, remember, and fight back,” he went on to say.

For more information regarding Relay for Life and how you can get involved, go to relayforlife.org.

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