The NMU Relay For Life is fast approaching and members of the committee are getting the campus fired up.
The NMU Relay For Life Committee is holding a kick-off party from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 2 in the Woodland Park Apartments multi-purpose room.
“Our goal last year was to have 800 participants and there were more than 850 in attendance. The more people that come, the more successful we will be in our fight against cancer,” said Thao Do, co-chair of organizing Relay for Life.
There will be food, drinks and information at the party. The party isn’t only just for those looking to start a team. It is also for motivating the current teams.
“Hopefully the party will encourage more participation,” Do said.
Participation in Relay For Life has increased every year. There are now more than 3.5 million participants annually.
“I joined Relay [For Life] my freshman year when my roommate asked me to be a team captain with her,” Do said. “I loved it, and I’ve continued participating in relay ever since. It’s addicting.”
The NMU Relay For Life will be starting at 1 p.m. held Friday and Saturday, March 23 to 24 in the Vandament Arena, running for a full 24 hours. Relay features a Survivor Lap to celebrate victories over cancer and a luminaria ceremony in remembrance of loved ones lost to cancer.
“Our event is one of the few 24-hour college relays. Most colleges that participate in Relay only do 12 to 16 hours,” Do said.
Last year, the NMU Relay raised over $23,000. The money fundraised by Relay participants goes to the American Cancer Society in order to fund research and other necessities that will hopefully lead to finding a cure for cancer. The goal this year is to raise $27,000.
“College students have more energy and party at relay all night,” said co-chair of the NMU relay, Karla Kopp. “It’s neat to see the university come together for one cause.”
The first Relay For Life was held in Tacoma, Wash. in 1986, and 19 teams raised approximately $33,000.
Now, Relay for Life has spread all over the United States and even into other countries. Many people have been involved for a long time.
“I started Relay with my dad and his team in the National Guard,” Kopp said. “Then I was team captain and started a team at my high school. When I came to NMU, I joined the committee freshman year.”
Relay is a fun way to raise money for cancer research, but it is also very meaningful to a lot of people who have experienced the devastation of cancer first hand, Kopp said.
“I have family members that have been affected by cancer and relay for me is on a much more personal level now,” Kopp said.
Looking to the future and remaining optimistic is a big part of the relay spirit.
“We’re hoping to see a lot of people at the party and then we hope to see them again at the relay,” Kopp said. “College relays are different than community relays, we’re much smaller and more focused. The arena is very intimate and everyone is there for the same cause.”
Relay For Life takes a lot of work and a large committee for the annual event to take place.
Team development is a major part of the relay process.
“We work with the team captains and it is our job to answer any questions they might have along with supporting them throughout the whole process of Relay,” said Jolie Wycinski, team development co-chair.
Everyone’s hard work will continue until March, when the relay will finally take place and everyone comes together.
“Each team makes the experience their own but in the end everyone comes together which makes NMU’s relay something original,” Wycinski said.