Walking the walk

By on April 29, 2009

Following last year’s Relay for Life success, Quinnipiac had a lot to live up to in 2009, and plenty of obstacles in its way.

Last year’s inaugural Relay for Life at Quinnipiac was awarded the title of “Rookie of the Year.” Despite being held during the weekend that May Weekend has traditionally been celebrated on, as well as concerns due to the condition of the economy, this year’s event appears to have been a success as well.

It looks like this year’s Relay might fall short of last year’s $114,000 fundraising haul, but the organizers of the event went in with even lower expectations.

Christina Owczarek, event co-chair of Quinnipiac’s Relay for Life, said, “Over 100 teams and 900 participants came together, despite some roadblocks, and brought in $100,000 by 6 p.m. on April 24. During the economic times were facing, we would have been happy to just break $50,000.”

Relay for Life invites teams of eight to 15 members to sign up to spend the night in the Rec Center, with the goal of having one team member walking the track at all times. Entertainment is provided throughout the night, as well as the “Luminaria” ceremony, in which many bags carrying personal messages are lit up.

Besides surpassing expectations for fundraising, Quinnipiac’s Relay drew Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell, a breast cancer survivor, to campus for a speech during the opening ceremony.

There was considerable concern on campus about Relay being held during May Weekend, but Owczarek downplayed the effect that had on fundraising.

“Relay For Life was held the last weekend in April because the calendar of events was jam-packed this year,” she said. “May Weekend no longer exists at QU, and even if it did, students who believe in the cause, believe in Relay For Life, would fundraise and participate regardless. Relay is now a University event and all decisions that are made are ultimately made much higher up than our committee alone.”

This past November, as well as being named Relay for Life’s “Rookie of the Year,” last year’s Quinnipiac Relay was named the top youth event of the year for the New England Division, and received the award for “Top Five Youth Per Capita.”

“Unfortunately, every single person is effected by cancer in some way. Relay For Life gives everyone a chance to come together to celebrate those who have won their battle, remember loved ones, and fight back against the disease that takes too much,” Owczarek said.

“I’d have to say, writing $100,000 on the check right before we welcomed Governor Jodi Rell to the stage, now that was something I’ll never forget.”

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