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The Colleges Against Cancer (CAC) club has an important question for Fairfield students: What can you do with $5?

In this economy, it may seem like not much. You can buy a foot-long sandwich at Subway, a milkshake from the Stag or a magazine from the grocery store. But CAC offers a way for students to do something more meaningful with that small amount of money.

The kickoff event for Fairfield University’s sixth annual Relay for Life was held at the Levee this past Thursday, Jan. 26. Each year, CAC hosts the kickoff to inform students about the upcoming Relay and to begin to raise money (and anticipation) for the actual event, which takes place at the end of April in the traffic circle outside of the Barone Campus Center.

After a short technical delay, the event started at 6:30 p.m. with Tri-Chairs Meredith Davide ’12, Jessica Gilpin ‘12 and Nicole Heller ’13 announcing this year’s Relay for Life theme: Disney. This theme offers a wide range of costume and activity possibilities that are sure to be entertaining, especially among nostalgic college students facing the looming realities of the “real world.”

For those unfamiliar with the setup of Relay for Life, the Team Development Committee Chair Brian Alexander ‘15 explained the process. First, a captain creates the team online, and then Relayers sign up to join the team. “Basically anyone can form a team,” said Alexander, including dorms, halls, clubs or even simply groups of friends.

Prior to the event, teams fundraise money for the American Cancer Society, which sponsors the Relay events across the country. The fundraising continues at the actual Relay, where teams decorate their own stations and host an on-site fundraising activity that goes along with the theme of the event—Disney, in this case.

There are also added incentives built into registration. “The team that has the most points before Relay will get a prize at the event,” said Alexander.

How does a team acquire these points? For every $100 raised by the team as a whole, the team will get 20 points.  100 points will also go to the team with the most participants registered by Feb. 21.

The prize for the team with the most points at Relay is still uncertain. However, an example of a past prize is an hour in the BCC during the event with hot drinks, snacks and other refreshments later into the night, which is a great morale booster to help a team push through the rest of the event.

One of the fundraisers prior to the Relay event is the sale of Luminaria bags. These bags cost $5, and the purchasers decorate the bags with the name of someone who has lost, is currently fighting or has survived the battle against cancer. At Relay for Life, lights will be placed in these bags, and they will line the traffic circle and spell out the word “hope” on the hill in front of the BCC.

At the kickoff event, several members of CAC shared their reasons for participating in Relay for Life, whether it was in honor of family members and friends who died while battling cancer, or in support of those who survived or are fighting. After giving their reasons for relaying, each speaker lit a glow stick and stated, “I am hope, and my hope will light up this room.”

Luminaria Committee Co-Chair Victoria D’Altrui ’14 then involved every student at the Levee, saying, “Now it is your turn to light up the room with hope.” Each person received their own glow stick, which they broke and lit up in turn if they were a survivor of cancer, if they had a family member or friend with cancer or if they were simply joining the millions of people across the country fighting cancer and searching for a cure.

“Individually, we are each one light of hope,” said D’Altrui. “As Relayers, we let our light shine together.”

So what does Colleges Against Cancer suggest you do with that extra $5 sitting in your pocket? Buy a Luminaria bag in memorial or celebration of a person whose life has been affected by cancer, put it toward the Relay registration fee of $10, or simply donate it to the cause.

This year’s fundraising goal is $50,000, a target goal nearly $10,000 greater than the funds raised last year. In order to reach this goal, CAC is counting on the support and generosity of all Fairfield students.

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