Since the inaugural Relay for Life event in 2006, students from Georgetown has managed to raise $1.4 million for the American Cancer Society. Relay for Life has become an integral part of the Georgetown experience. Each year, hundreds of Hoyas come together and reach out to their families and friends asking for financial support in the fight against cancer. More than 200 students take on the difficult task of leading the fight. Matthew Archambault (COL ’14), Ryan Muldoon (COL ’13) and D.J. Wise (COL ’13) sat down with the guide to discuss their experiences as this year’s co-chairs of Relay For Life, which will take place on April 20.
What inspired you to get involved in Relay for Life?
Wise: Fighting cancer has always been something my family believes in. In 2004, my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer … by Christmas of ’04 he was cleared of cancer in his lungs. One to one-and-a-half years later, he was diagnosed with brain cancer and passed away on Aug. 12, 2006. At Georgetown, I saw an opportunity to fight cancer in such a tangible way.
What can people expect at this year’s Relay for Life?
Muldoon: The committee has been working to completely revamp Relay. There will be a giant stage for the performers, a boardwalk for games and fundraisers and food.
Wise: But the most important aspects of Relay will remain the same: the Survivor’s Lap and theLuminaria Ceremony, [which honors those who have been touched by cancer and those who have lost their battle with cancer].
Beyond raising money, there is an integral human connection to this event. In what ways will this element of Relay for Life be incorporated into the event?
Muldoon: It doesn’t matter what aspect of Relay it is, we could not remove the element of the survivors, the cancer patients, those who have lost their battle with cancer and the caregivers. If it weren’t for them, we would not have a reason to fight.
Archambault: For every cancer patient, there is a caregiver that’s with them throughout their treatment.
What have been some of the challenges of planning such a large-scale event?
Wise: One of the biggest challenges every Relay has is getting people to sign up early. The way I look at it is cancer survivors and fighters can’t wait until April to fight back, [so] there’s no reason that we should wait until April.
Archambault: Uniting the message between the event chairs, committee chairs and the general committee and getting everyone on the same page is also a challenge.
What sorts of programs or activities do the funds raised by Relay for Life support?
Muldoon: In our very own backyard, the Lombardi Cancer Center here at Georgetown has a number of researchers who are receiving grants from the American Cancer Society to do innovative and groundbreaking research.
Archambault: Gardasil, the HPV vaccine, was developed at the Lombardi Cancer Center and partially funded by the American Cancer Society with funds from Relay for Life.
Wise: A lot of people have to travel far to get cancer treatment, but they may not have places to stay and hotel stays can get expensive. Hope Lodges provide patients and one caregiver with a place to stay that is close to their treatment center at no cost to them.
What do you hope people take away from this year’s Relay for Life?
Archambault: My goal is that anyone who comes as a participant leaves as a relayer. I hope the event opens people’s eyes to this entire world of Relay. People who relay, especially on a national level, are of a different breed than those who don’t.