The eighth annual Relay for Life (RFL) raised $42,119.60 and counting for cancer research, treatment and services last Friday at Farley Field House.

RFL is an annual event sponsored  on college campuses by the American Cancer Society (ACS) to honor individuals affected by cancer and collect donations for research. Participants aim to walk as many laps around a track as they can to in honor of those who lost their lives to the disease.
The College’s relay—which lasted from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Farley Field House—offered a wide range of activities to keep participants entertained while others walked on the track, including a hypnotist, Zumba class, bouncy castle, bungee run, Taiko and a cappella performances, DJs, photo booth, raffle prizes, ping-pong tables, corn hole, and food options.

Participants are encouraged to raise money as a team. This year, 41 teams joined the relay, consisting of 462 people. There is a $10 registration fee for individuals hoping to take part in the festivities.

Matt Mathias ’14, co-chair of Bowdoin’s RFL, said he believes the event was a huge success.  
“I think we were very successful,” Mathias said. “Whatever our total sum turns out to be, we’re happy with that.”

This year, the RFL committees hoped to raise $50,000, but only expected about $41,000. Donations from last weekend are still being tallied.

Mathias said he attributes missing the fundraising goal to the fact that RFL coincided with a busy weekend on campus this year. 

“I think because of the prospective student weekend, not as many people showed up,” he said.
Co-chair of Bowdoin’s Relay for Life Laurel Varnell ’14 said she believes cancer care is important to a large portion of the student body.

“There were so many luminaria set up for people who had been lost to cancer, or who had cancer. I think that was incredible,” Varnell said. “You’d be reading the names [on the luminaria] and it was the last name of one of your friends and you’d be like ‘Wow, I didn’t realize they were affected by cancer’.”

RFL instituted a “first-year brick challenge” to encourage greater involvement among first-years. The brick that raised the most money will receive gelato party. Moore Hall, which raised over $1,235, was named the winner.

While the vast majority of participants were students, some faculty and staff also contributed to the relay. Bowdoin Housekeeping created a team called Angels for Hope. Housekeeper Hope Marden led the team in honor of her 3-year-old grandson, who was diagnosed with cancer over a year ago. The team held bake sales and raffles, and raised over $3,813 the most money out of any participating team this year.

While Varnell said she is pleased with the outcome of this year’s relay, she hopes to increase participation, including by faculty and staff, next spring.

“The Housekeeping team has definitely set an example that you can get faculty and staff involved and that they can be hugely successful,” Varnell said. “Making [RFL] more appealing to faculty and staff is where I think there can be a big improvement next year.”

Many organizations—on and off campus—contributed to the relay budget. The McKeen Center for the Common Good and Bowdoin Student Activities offered $4,000 to fund the relay. Donations from other sources—including ice cream from Residential Life, pizza from the Office of Admissions, Frosty’s Donuts from the Class of 2016 Class Council, and various food items from the Dining Service— also added to the success of the event. Discounts from local vendors allowed for additional activities at the photo booth.

Kiel McQueen ’08 brought RFL to the College in 2006 as a community service project for Baxter House. Since then, Bowdoin’s relays have raised over $250,000 for the ACS.

Varnell attributes this year’s relay success to increased advertising and publicity efforts.

 “We did a lot of advertising, we had pub catered—we enticed people with free food,” Varnell said.

Despite the success of this year’s relay, Mathias hopes to garner more awareness and participation in the 2014 relay.

“I think a lot of people who don’t know about relay think it is just walking around the track for 12 straight hours, which is boring,” Mathias said. “But in reality, it’s a really fun night. We have ping-pong, corn hole, a Zumba instructor, bouncy houses, and it’s for a great cause.”