Relay For Life Organizers Reach for $1 Million Mark
Hundreds Expected to Join 24-Hour Charity Walk at UNH Field House
Sarah Madison Lampner, Event Chair, UNH Relay for Life 2012.
At noon on April 21, about 40 cancer survivors will step onto the indoor track at the UNH Field House and walk a lap.
As the survivors complete the circle on a day that some worried they might never live to see, their families, friends, and caregivers will step onto the track and join them for a second lap.
As they complete the circle again, hundreds of cheering UNH students, faculty, and community members will join them for the Relay for Life, the largest student-led fundraising effort at the University.
And for the next 24 hours, they will continue circling the track—as relay teams, as individuals, as survivors, as friends—sacrificing sleep, enduring sore feet, and earning every penny possible for the American Cancer Society.
“After all the work we’ve put into it, to finally see all those people on the track? It feels really, really good,” says Sarah Lampner, a three-year member of the relay organizing committee. “It shows you that it was all worth it.”
Lampner, Everitt Newton and Janet Gorman, all UNH seniors, are co-chairs of this year’s relay committee, a year-round commitment that requires hundreds of hours of volunteer service. Started nine years ago at UNH, the relay raised $125,000 last year, and aims to raise $130,00 this year—which would easily boost the relay’s total to more than $1 million at UNH.
Individuals and teams can sign up until the start of the event, and Lampner is hoping for a surge of participants (registration is $15 per person, and registrants are encouraged to raise at least $100 in pledges.) So far, UNH has 899 individuals and 99 teams signed up, with total pledges of more than $53,000.
“That’s pretty good considering it’s a totally student-run effort, and it’s all for a cause outside of UNH,” says Lampner, who is studying hospitality management and nutrition.
Big Commitments, Big Payoffs
Relay for Life, started in Tacoma, WA, in 1985, is now the world’s largest not-for-profit activity, with more than 4 million people excepted to take part in the United States. The American Cancer Society is planning 5,200 relay events in the U.S. and about 1,000 in 20 other countries.
For UNH student organizers, the relay is also one of the most intensive volunteer activities they can choose. Planning for next year begins shortly after this year’s event wraps up, as the group’s student-elected leaders begin recruiting and scheduling.
“The commitment is huge,” says Marianne Fortescue, UNH coordinator for special student projects, “and it’s so inspiring to see how hard the members of the organizing committee pull together to raise money, get people to walk, and to make sure everything goes smoothly.”
Lampner says deciding to get involved was easy for her because her family and friends—like those of many volunteers—have been touched by cancer, striking three of her grandparents and also her best friend’s mother.
“This was something positive I could do to help fight back,” Lampner said.
The relay offers plenty of motivation, positive energy and great food to keep the walkers moving. At 9 p.m., the lights will be lowered for the Luminaria Ceremony, when white paper bags lit from inside—each one bearing the name of someone touched by cancer—will line the perimeter of the track. Participants will then walk for an hour as soft music fills the Field House.
A Fight Back Ceremony encourages participants to make individual pledges to fight cancer. There will also be yoga, an improv show, testimonials from cancer survivors, and live music throughout the event.
“I love seeing how it all comes together in the end,” Lampner says.
When she’s not studying or busy with Relay for Life, Lampner works for UNH Dining Services and volunteers for special events with University Events and Planning. All of it is great preparation, she says, as she pursues a career in hospitality management.
You can help UNH Relay for Life break the $1 million mark. To register your own Relay for Life team or donate to a current student team, click here.
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