Relay For Life to host fall kick-off event tonight

Tufts Relay For Life will host its kick-off event today at 8 p.m. in the Game Room of the Mayer Campus Center, rather than Hotung Cafe, where it has been held in previous years. 

The event will feature discounted registration for the final April 10 event as well as performances by Tufts student groups, including sQ!, Enchanted and Cheap Sox.  Food will be provided by Chipotle for the attending guests, according to Elana Shapiro, co-chair of Relay For Life.

“We have this kick-off event every year, twice a year, so this is our fall kick-off — our purpose is to bring attention to Relay For Life and to get people to sign up for the April event,” Shapiro, a senior, said. “The relay is in April, but we fundraise all year round and people start teams as early as now.”

Rachel Coyne, co-chair of Relay For Life, added that there will be more similar events later in the year.

“We’ll have many more events after this, but this is to welcome the teams and to get to know each other and other people,” she explained.

Relay For Life, an overnight event on campus hosted by the American Cancer Society (ACS), is designed to honor cancer survivors, remember lost loved ones and raise money for medical research on cancer. In past years, the spring event has attracted over 1,200 people, according to the Relay For Life website. 

Acording to Shapiro, the event takes place from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and features traditions intended to mirror the journey of a cancer patient, progressing through the consecutive phases of cancer: diagnosis, treatment and recovery.

“The purpose of having a large event on campus is to bring together anyone who has been affected by cancer, whether it be caregivers or survivors themselves, and the point is … that everybody has been touched by cancer in some way, so this is everybody’s cause,” she noted.

Coyne, a senior, explained that the committee’s goal is to raise $95,000 by April, after having raised $78,000 last year.

In addition to fundraising for the April event, the Tufts branch of Relay For Life is working to diversify its activities on campus. The organization again plans to host JumBonnaroo, a weekend-long music festival where Tufts bands perform at fraternity houses, from Nov. 20 to 22.

“Our purpose is to raise awareness for Relay For Life by hosting events that Tufts students will be interested in attending,” Shapiro said. “That’s an adaptation, or continuation, of events that we’ve done in the past, and we’re looking to bring some new events to campus.”

Coyne added that Relay For Life will be hosting a lecture series in which researchers will speak about the different types of cancer and dispel common myths.

“We want people to know where their donations are going to — we’re hosting a lecture series in which we hope to get researchers that are working with ACS grants,” she explained.

Laura Coughlin, head of publicity of Relay For Life, agreed with the mission of the lecture series.

“Many people know what cancer is, but not the science behind it and the chemistry involved,” she said. “There are a lot of medical students at [the Tufts University School of Medicine] with ACS grants that we’re hoping to bring in to speak at our lecture series.”

Coughlin, a junior, added that they are trying to raise awareness about different types of cancer and to have an event each month to publicize April’s event, including a bake sale for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.