UNH’s Relay for Life committee prepares for their biggest event this year—an 18-hour relay for which all proceeds go to the American Cancer Society. The event begins on Saturday, April 27 at noon and ends at 6 a.m. on Sunday, April 28. The New Hampshire spoke with Norah Silverstone, a senior communications major and the head of recruitment of the Relay for Life committee on campus.
“The whole point is that it’s through the night and when you get tired and you don’t want to keep walking you keep walking and fighting on for those who can’t. You’re raising money during the whole event,” she said.
Every aspect of the event goes toward funding.
“People are there selling raffle tickets for games. It’s carnival-themed this year so we’re going to have popcorn, cotton candy and fun carnival games,” she explained.
“I wasn’t on the committee last year, but my best friend and roommate was, so it inspired me to join and get more involved setting it up,” Silverstone said, adding that she hopes to improve this year’s numbers.
“So far there’s around 400 signed up. We should see around 900 to 1000 people throughout the event. There are different activities throughout the day. We have sunset yoga, a Zumba class, a magician is coming as well as a mind reader so there’s all sorts of events. A bunch of acapella groups are coming too,” she explained.
Silverstone explained the process of registering for Relay for Life.
“You create an account online, you can do it at the door if you like. It’ll be $25 at the event. It’s $20 right now but that just goes straight to your fundraising effort. If you raise $100 you get a t-shirt for the event and you get free food throughout the event,” she said.
Anyone with internet access can join the charitable cause.
“The official website is relayforlife.org/unh and you can just click on ‘join this event.’ There are teams but also people who do it solo. There are about 40 other teams now and people can join those. A lot of clubs are joining. Sororities, fraternities, athletic departments so it really gets people from different aspects of UNH to come together,” she stated.
Silverstone stressed that participants do not need to be marathon-ready to attend. “A lot of people think it is a relay race… Some people run but it’s not an 18-hour race,” she said.
“We’re trying to raise $100,000 for the event. We’re over $40,000 right now. We’re hoping for $100,00,” She said. The event will not be dependent on the weather either. “It’s in-doors in the Whittemore Center. They take up the hockey rink and you just walk around the Whit, so weather doesn’t really affect the event,” she said.
Right now, they are working on different techniques to raise the most funds possible. “For people who signed up for Relay in the past week they’ve all been entered into a competition to win a free SCOPE ticket to this year’s concert. Also, the top fundraiser from the past week is also given a free ticket. It’s another little incentive,” she said. The Durham police is also holding an event where people will get to pie an officer in the face to raise money.
The president of the committee, senior therapeutic management major Emma Jones, also explained how she came to be involved with Relay for Life.
“I participated my freshman year and then I saw how awesome the event was and some of my friends were involved so I joined my sophomore year and have been on it ever since,” Jones said along with a personal reason why the event meant so much to her. “I do it for my mom. She passed away from cancer when I was a little kid. That’s the reason why I do it. It’s a really moving experience when you’re a part of it and I think planning it has made it even more meaningful for me,” she said.
Both members stressed that the event is a team effort from within and without.
“Alpha Phi Omega is our direct service partner. What that means is they have a fundraising page on our website where you can see how APO’s across the country are doing. They have a national fundraising goal of $100,000,” Jones explained. “The APO chapter at UNH has been super helpful. They have a goal of $15,000 and they are almost there. I think they’re at just over $12,000. We’re so appreciative of them,” Jones said. She hopes to outraise the amount they gathered from last year, which she said was about $80,000 after the cost for rentals.
Jones went on to outline the structure of the event.
“There are three major ceremonies at the event. Our first major ceremony is the survivor ceremony. We call it our opening ceremony but basically that’s where we honor survivors. We invite survivors to come to our event with their caregivers,” she said.
Silverstone added that “the event starts out with a survivor lap. It’s led by cancer survivors in the community.” There is also a speech given at this time.
The second ceremony takes place at night. “We have our luminaria ceremony at nine o’clock at night which is to honor those who are still fighting cancer, honor those who we have lost and support survivors as well,” Jones said. There are many poignant, somber, and uplifting activities during and directly after this ceremony.
Then, when morning comes, the third ceremony begins. She explained the significance of the final ceremony “Technically it’s called the fightback ceremony but it’s our closing ceremony. It’s where we reveal the total number that we have raised. We also do raffle prizes at that time, so we announce all of those,” Jones said. Norah added that, “we have a signed Bruin’s stick by a bunch of team players for a raffle prize.” There are also multiple gift cards to local restaurants among other prizes.
For those interested in becoming more involved, Emma stated that, “we meet Tuesday nights at 8:00 in MUB 321.” The Relay for Life event has been a part of this university’s campus for over 10 years.