Campus sidewalks will be chalked and faces will be painted purple next week to raise awareness for Relay for Life, which will be held March 26 at the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center.
It is a part of the “Paint the Campus Purple Week” that will take place at colleges nationwide between Feb. 28 and March 4. Colleges Against Cancer (CAC), an American Cancer Society-sponsored student group that merged with Relay For Life at Brandeis this year, will run the weeklong initiative.
The Brandeis chapter of CAC, which will also man a table at the Usdan Student Center and don purple T-shirts throughout the week, was founded in January 2008 by Katy Agule ‘09 and Nadine Channaoui ’10.
In December 2007, Agule and Channaoui, prompted by personal connections to the disease, were actively involved in the planning committee for the first annual Relay For Life at Brandeis. The two students worked with event co-chairs Carol Simon, head coach of the women’s basketball team, and Niki Rybko, assistant athletics trainer.
Channaoui recalls that at the first event, “students and faculty had so much energy and momentum to fight cancer.”
Agule received the 2008 Excellence in Advocacy Award from the American Cancer Society for highest amount fundraised per capita for a college.
At Brandeis, the club reached about 30 regular members the year after its founding, and Relay For Life became a hugely-attended, well-known campus event.
The national standards for a CAC chapter are to maintain four directions: education, survivorship, advocacy and Relay For Life. Not all campuses manage to fulfill all four, but Brandeis does – this is how CAC became recognized as a “Leader of Hope” chapter, an award given to the most active chapters in the country.
“I couldn’t be happier to have left Brandeis with such a phenomenal event,” Channaoui says. “I hope it continues growing and touching the hearts of students, faculty and staff at Brandeis.”
The annual fundraiser has grown a lot over the years. It began in 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt, a surgeon in Tacoma, Wash., walked around a track for 24 hours to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Since then, Relay For Life events across the United States have collected more than $3.5 billion in the fight against cancer. In 2009, more than 5,034 Relay For Life events across the country raised more than $386 million.
The current president of CAC is Sarah Cohen ‘11, who serves as the Relay For Life event chair and works along with Rybko. Hannah Katcoff ’12 is the vice president of CAC and event co-chair, and will take over as event chair next year.
Last year, Relay for Life at Brandeis raised $85,000 with approximately 800 participants on 90 teams. This spring, Katcoff says, their goal is to reach $100,000 with close to 1,000 participants. Katcoff is leading her own team of 15 friends.
Her mission is to “try to bring the community together to celebrate survivors, remember those lost and fight back against this disease.”
For many participants, one of the most moving parts of Relay for Life is the Luminaria Ceremony to honor and remember loved ones. At Brandeis, students throw glow sticks into a giant Luminaria bag in remembrance of grandparents, parents, friends, and others lost to the disease. The ceremony continues with a lap around the track, usually led by a bagpiper.
This year’s Relay for Life will include a carnival theme. It also offers campus entertainment and outside bands that have donated their time. In the past, entertainment has included magician Tim Blaine, as well as student a capella groups. The Academy Blues Project band will return this year, along with clubs such as Kaos Kids and a capella groups. Relay is also bringing in a circus acrobat.
The only requirement to participate in Relay For Life is the $10 pre-registration fee per person, due upon registration, or $20 at the door.
Remember to wear purple during “Paint the Campus Purple Week,” and sign up for Relay for Life at Brandeis before March 4 to receive a free T-shirt.