The week of Relay for Life is always a hectic one. Being the vice president this semester, I, along with my executive board members woke up the Monday before the 11th Annual Relay for Life of Trinity on Friday, April 15th, and prepared for each night to be a long one.There is food deliveries and pick-ups to confirm, activities to assign, decorations to collect, people and teams to continue signing up, emails to send, people to call, and the list goes on.
Thursday afternoon, the day before Relay, one of my good friends and e-board co-chairs Catherine and I called restaurants and waited for restaurants to call us back for around three hours, as food is an attention grabber and necessity at any event. After leaving my internship around 5pm that same day, I drove around and collected donated gift cards from three restaurants, and also stopped at Chipotle to personally confirm their large food donation. We then had our weekly Thursday night meeting, sending group members off with flyers and lawn signs to promote Relay for Life one last time. After working on other small details for a good portion of the night, it was time to rest up.
With donations still coming in every so often, we had reached about $8,000 raised on our Trinity Relay for Life website, a small amount less than last year, but still a number we were happy with. Waking up Friday morning, there is always the calm before the storm. I went to practice and then grabbed some food, and the storm began. Frantically calling Dunkin’ Donuts for three dozen glazed donuts, hanging up the ‘Today is the Day’ banner over the main dining hall, double checking food orders, and making sure someone was at the venue, Trinity’s ice hockey rink, to meet the sound people, the CT Inflatables with the inflatable activities, and more was a stressful beginning to what would be a successful night.
Committee members were required to be at the hockey rink at 1 pm to begin set-up decorations, go over speeches, make last minute decisions, pick up necessary equipment, and simply prepare each other for the night ahead. Food deliveries and pick ups were being made from 6:30 to 7:30 pm and with the event starting at 6pm and food being served at 7:30 pm, it is needless to say that things are always happening up until the last minute. Six pm is always a rush of people coming to sign in and register, teams coming to set up their table and activities, and the committee members running around like chickens with their heads cut off, but having a great time doing it.
The hockey rink looked great. Tables were decorated and spread around the entire rink, creating a track that was lined with Luminarias, which are bags used to honor and remember all cancer patients with a ceremony later that night; purple, the basis of this year’s theme “Paint the World Purple,” was everywhere, from the walls to tables.
We ordered a huge inflatable obstacle course free to everyone for the night, we had a donut eating on a string contest, Pie-in-the-Face, cookie decorating, bracelet making, henna tattoos, tug-of-war, a relay race, Accapella concerts, ice cream sundaes, a lip synch contest, and student DJs known as DJ Yosa and DJ AWOLF keeping the party going all night long.
What is special about Relay for Life is that every hour of work put into the event is worth the effort when the night rolls around. This year, we had more people show up and stay for the 6 hours than we have had in both past years I have been at Trinity. People were having fun with every activity, and the lip synch contest was one of the funniest to date.
The Luminaria ceremony, which is the more emotional moment of the evening, was heartfelt and respected by everyone present. The ceremony includes a short speech; recognition of loved ones through luminarias, which are paper bags decorated with the names of those we are honoring; the breaking of glow sticks that are then put into the luminaria bags to light up the track, and a silent lap around the track to pray for, remember, or simply support any person who has been directly or indirectly affected by cancer.
During the speech, my e-board co-chairs and I looked upon the crowd with happiness and pride as we spoke to them about the meaning of relay, and about the importance of remembering and supporting all of those that cancer has touched- which we realize every year is one too many.
The night ended with a multi-round dodgeball tournament, and students stayed later than they ever have before, with our event lasting the entire 6 hours, something that is hard to fulfill with college students on a Friday night. This years’ Relay for Life was the 11th annual Trinity relay, and my third at this school.
By the end, we had raised over $18,000, a bit less than years before, but nothing short of a phenomenal night spent honoring, remembering, and supporting cancer patients with my peers. One of the most rewarding events to help run and partake in, I could not be more proud of the executive board, the committee members, and the Trinity students that came to support, and am already excited to start planning for Relay for Life 2017.