Tufts Relay for Life raises over $6,000 following November kick-off

Tufts Relay for Life (RFL) has raised over $6,000 for the American Cancer Society (ACS) in preparation for its main relay event in April following the group’s November kick-off event.

The fundraising effort will culminate with the spring RFL event, which will take place from April 8 to 9 at the Gantcher Center from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. At the event, people will gather to honor, remember and support cancer survivors and their caregivers as well as people battling cancer or who have died from cancer, according to the Tufts RFL website.

“We fundraise and do publicity all year for this [April] event,” senior Emily Casey, the group’s event chair, said. “We do educational events and entertainment events to raise awareness and get people interested.”

According to the RFL national website, RFL began in 1985 when cancer researcher Dr. Gordy Klatt decided to fundraise for his research. He ran around a track for 24 hours, allowing people to pledge a certain amount of money to walk or run with him, ultimately raising around $27,000. This set in motion Relay for Life, which would become a national ACS fundraising event with the same premise of Klatt’s initial run, though it has been adopted by teams and participants in cities, towns and schools across the country. According to the ACS website, Relay for Life is the largest non-governmental funder of cancer research.

According to Casey, the RFL kick-off event took place on Nov. 4 and aimed to publicize the group’s spring relay. The two-and-a-half-hour kick-off showcased four performance groups, as well as speakers from the organization who are cancer survivors, Casey said. The event also included free food, donations and discounted registration.

Tufts Relay for Life has 35 teams and 151 participants as of press time, according to the Tufts RFL fundraising website. According to Casey, participants this year have raised three hundred more dollars than they did around mid-November last year.

Other fundraising events held by RFL since the kick-off include its first profit-sharing fundraising event on Nov. 19 at Joshua Tree Bar and Grill in Davis Square, where the profit that the sports bar makes throughout day will be donated to Tufts RFL. According to Casey, RFL partnered with Joshua Tree for the event in order to gauge community support and Tufts’ students support for the cause.

The group also hosted a “Zumba for Life” event, which was a free Zumba class for all pre-registered participants, on Nov. 17 in the Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness Center. The event promoted healthy living and breathing to raise awareness about lung cancer, according to Casey.

Casey explained that this year’s RFL centers on the theme “Olympics,” which will guide the direction of the RFL events in the spring to include culture houses and culture societies on campus, expanding the cause’s audience that traditionally includes primarily athletic teams and members of Greek life.

“Cancer affects everyone all across the world, and we also want to celebrate more of what culture societies do, as well as the students,” she said. “We hope to have over 1,000 participants and raise of 100,000 dollars this year for ACS.”

The event is catered toward Tufts student groups and faculty members, since the surrounding Medford and Somerville areas have their own individual RFL events, according to Casey. However, there are non-Tufts groups that do participate in the Tufts RFL event, she said.

“We even have a team come from Malden Middle School [from Malden, Mass.] who participates every year,” Casey said.

The Tufts chapter of RFL had around 800 participants last year, but this year they are looking to expand that number to 1,000.

“[Our goal is] to also have one-fifth of Tufts (1,000 students) signed up for Relay in the Spring as well,” Tyler Lueck, the co-event chair of Tufts RFL, told the Daily in an email.

Lueck, a senior, added that the team hopes to fundraise over $100,000 this year.

“The last time we broke 100k was our freshman year, and we’d love to do it again,” he said.

In the past five years, Tufts RFL has raised over half a million dollars in total, and every year, Tufts places in the top five in terms of amount of money raised at New England schools, according to Casey. Tufts’ high ranking allows it to be in the same field as larger schools such as Northeastern University, she said.

“We’re one of the top five relays in New England,” Casey said. “That’s a really huge accomplishment, and we’re very proud of it.”

Casey and Lueck both said that they hope Tufts RFL will gain more awareness on campus this year.

“[In the long run, we] would love to see Tufts RFL continue to exist as a large group on campus that makes a big impact with fundraising and awareness every year,” Lueck said.