Eighty teams with over 1,000 participants raised over $138,000 at Georgetown’s annual Relay for Life fundraiser to benefit the American Cancer Society Friday, breaking 2015’s total of $133,000.
The theme of this year’s Relay for Life was “Cirque du Relay,” where the Relay committee sought to create a carnival atmosphere with games, dance classes, soccer matches and music from Georgetown student groups. A silent memory walk late in the night — the “Luminaria Ceremony” — encouraged students to reflect on how they and others have been touched by cancer, and included a performance by the Georgetown Phantoms.
According to event co-chair Emily Horne (COL ’18), the group’s fundraising has declined each year for the past five years, following the first Relay for Life event in 2007. Last year marked the first time in five years that the event raised more than the prior year’s event.
The Relay for Life Executive Committee, Georgetown Sigma Phi Epsilon, the American Cancer Society’s Can Extreme team, Fred’s Fighters and Georgetown Kappa Kappa Gamma raised the most money at the 2016 event. The Executive Committee raised $31,015.55 as of press time, followed by SigEp and the Can Extreme team at $28,268 and $9,383, respectively.
“It’s definitely been my favorite Relay at Georgetown but I also just think it’s been such a successful night after a year of planning,” Horne said.
Event co-chair Stephen Laufer (SFS ’16) said the event is consistently strong because of its ability to bring Georgetown students together.
“I think everyone in some sort of way is touched by cancer, and Relay for Life is a really great opportunity for people at Georgetown who normally wouldn’t attend the same events to come together for a common cause,” Laufer said. “It’s something that really unites and bonds people and provides support for one another.”
This year’s event featured many changes as a result of turnover within the Relay for Life executive board, after many members graduated. Laufer praised the underclassmen for pulling off the event.
“All of these sophomores and juniors who had never experienced what it was like to be on the executive team really stepped up to the plate to make this event happen.” Laufer said.
According to Horne, the tents and booths at the event were also rearranged on Cooper Field to make the event feel more intimate, with luminaries forming a border around field.
Alexander Zigerelli (MSB ’17), a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, said he believes participation is especially important for Greek organizations given the reputation of Greek life nationally and its status as unrecognized at Georgetown.
“There’s a lot of negative stigma about fraternities and sororities because people think we only party but there’s so much more to the culture,” Zigerelli said. “There’s so much more we do in trying to help out the community in every way we can.”
SigEp’s Vice President of Philanthropy Christian DeRosa (COL ’17) said his fraternity comes together every year for Relay due to his chapter’s longstanding connection with the effects of cancer. SigEp captured second place for funds raised this year, and raised more than the Relay Executive Committee last year at $34,690, the first in the event’s history.
“It’s something that we can all kind of bond over. I mean, one of our founding brothers actually had testicular cancer his senior year when he graduated, and then went on to become a doctor, and he definitely still keeps us motivated on that front,” DeRosa said. “I think every single person in the fraternity has either a direct or indirect tie to cancer, and in the same way that at Relay itself people share stories, we do that internally as well.”
Stephen Tranchina (COL ’18), who participated in Relay as a member of Club Swimming, also stressed the importance of volunteering for a good cause.
“It’s a tradition we have because we like to get involved with campus outreach, and we all either have known someone or been affected by cancer in some way whether it’s a relative or a friend,” Tranchina said. “So it’s our way to give back and do something more than just swim.”