Greeks to host annual relay to raise money for cancer

Relay for Life only started last year at UVM, but with over $64,000 raised and 374 participants, it was named the Top New Youth Relay in New England in 2007. This year, with 570 participants and 41 teams already signed up as of April 2, Relay for Life hopes to raise over $75,000. Co-chairs Ian Prieto and Mackenzie Leonard, said they hope to have over 600 participants and 50 teams at this years event.Relay for Life is a national event that takes place annually to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Relay for Life participants raise money prior to the event and then gather for an overnight celebration of cancer survivors and also to remember those lost to cancer. Participants can raise money in whatever way they want, although many of them find that their friends and family are willing to donate to such a good cause. All of the participants’ fundraising efforts go to the American Cancer Society for education, advocacy and support among other purposes. At the event, teams of eight to 15 people seek to have one person on the track at all times throughout the night.Elyse Gambardella started Relay for Life here at UVM just last year. It quickly gained momentum with Greek life as its sponsor. Leonard said last year’s efforts were “phenomenal.” Currently about half of the committees involved in Relay for Life at UVM are Greek while the other half are non-Greek, Leonard said. Prieto and Lenoard emphasize that Relay for Life is open to everyone who is interested.Leonard and Prieto both said that the luminaria ceremony is the most moving part of the event. Prior to the evening’s events, those wishing to commemorate a survivor or a loved one lost to cancer are able to decorate a bag in their name for a five dollar donation, Leondard said. During the luminaria ceremony, the bags are displayed around the track with candles inside as a way to honor cancer victims.This year’s event is being held from 6 p.m. Friday until 6 a.m. Saturday on the Athletic Campus green. There will be themed games such as the Ovarian Egg Hunt, Breast Bingo and Protect Your Balls Four Square. There will also be dancers and a TopCats performance.