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Relay for Life looks to surpass fundraising goal


Over the past few years, Relay for Life has become a staple on the University of Mississippi campus, right along with Rebel baseball, spring parties and Double Decker.

Doug Odom, publicity chair for the event, which is scheduled for April 13, said one of the big goals was to increase the publicity. To do that, one of the first things Odom did was set up a “percentage night” with McAllister’s restaurant in Oxford. 

McAllister’s agreed to publicize the event and Relay for Life volunteers served as wait staff while also setting up games.

“They would donate 10 percent of their final profit after taxes from that night, which benefited both of us in the long run,” Odom said. “They really liked us; they really want to do business with us in the future, so we made some good contacts.”

Co-chair of the event Courtney Pearson said other events have helped publicize Relay for Life as well, including The Little Black Dress event, which promoted breast cancer awareness.

“We had six or seven different vendors like Avon, Mary K and other breast cancer awareness stuff,” Pearson said. “We also had a Hero of Hope speaker. It was a nice evening for women to kind of raise awareness and have a good time.”

Other awareness events include Dancing for a Cure, an Ole Miss spin-off of Dancing with the Stars, where male volunteers were matched up with female faculty members. More percentage nights and events held by Greek groups have also helped raise awareness.

“I feel like we have made a better presence on campus this semester,” Pearson said. “The thing is, you can’t start initiating in January and expect to raise (our goal of) $45,000 in a few short months. So we wanted to make sure Ole Miss kind of knew what relay was and is aware of the presence on campus.”

Odom said there are currently between 42 and 45 teams signed up, and each team is “strongly encouraged” to raise $1,000.

“You can raise as much as you can, or if possible, even more,” Pearson said. “Provided that each team raises $1,000, we’ll be just shy of our goal; when you factor in the fundraising, we’ll actually exceed our goal of $45,000.”

The event lasts 12 hours, 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., and is separated into three sections.

“People see it’s 12 hours and think, ‘Oh my goodness what am I going to do for 12 hours? Walk around the circle? That sounds really boring.’ But it’s broken up into three shifts and is a lot of fun.”

Pearson said the opening ceremony begins with honoring cancer survivors.

“We begin the night by celebrating what we’re all here for,” she said.

Then comes the Luminaria Ceremony, which is where participants remember those that have been lost to cancer.

“Last year we had some really prominent leaders come out and speak,” Pearson said. “I don’t think people realize exactly how cancer affects people’s lives on campus. It’s the silent killer. It was really emotional last year.”

The event will end with the Fight Back Ceremony.

“It’s almost like a promise and a pledge,” she said. “Even if your relay is over, the fight is never over. You still have to continue to raise awareness for this disease.”

Adam Blackwell, advocacy chair for the event, said Relay for Life is not just about raising money.

“It’s also about coming together to support cancer survivors, those diagnosed with cancer and their families and friends,” he said. “Everyone on this campus has been affected by cancer in some way, so it’s something that everyone can participate in. Relay for Life is an organization that celebrates and remembers those diagnosed with cancer but also works to fight back and find a cure.”

For more information, visit www.relayforlife.com. Individuals can sign up as a team or as an individual.