On Wednesday, Feb. 18, the newly official Keene State College Relay for Life club hosted the American Cancer Society’s annual Relay for Life kickoff event to help raise awareness on campus.

The kickoff was held at 6:00 p.m. in the Flag Room inside the L.P. Young Student Center. According to the American Cancer Society’s website, cancer.org, four million people in more than 20 countries take part in the kickoff event and other events to help raise much needed awareness and funds to take a stand against cancer.

Senior and event co-chair Kathryn Sleeman stated that in addition to raising awareness for those who might be unaware of the American Cancer Society, this type of event also raises awareness about where the donated money goes and how it is used.

According to the website, Relay for Life has raised more than $5 billion to fight cancer. The website also says the money raised goes toward cancer research and treatment along with programs to help raise the self-esteem of cancer patients.

Philip Bergeron / Graphic Design Editor

Philip Bergeron / Graphic Design Editor

Sophomore and event co-chair Mikala Korbey added that the kickoff event is to help people sign up for the Relay for Life event, which is on April 10, and to give those who attend a chance to learn not only about their theme, but also about their mission.

“At this event we also do fundraising and try to promote activities that we have done in the past. This year we were selling t-shirts, chocolates, luminaria bags and we were also giving out free prizes,” Korbey stated.

Sleeman added that the kickoff event and the Relay for Life event brings together those who have been affected by cancer.

Sleeman added, “At our kickoff event we primarily focused on educating those who attended about our theme and our ‘fight-back’ mission.”

“Our mission is to walk for twelve hours through the night to help fight cancer by raising money for cancer research. Cancer never sleeps, so should we?” Sleeman asked.

Neula Ha, a sophomore who works with the social media aspect of the club, said, “The kickoff really helps motivate people to sign up and informs people why to participate. It pumps participants up for the main event and gives people the opportunity to really get in the groove of things. It also sets as a refresher to let people know that Relay For Life is approaching.”

Sleeman said every year there is a theme for Relay for Life and this year they decided to base it off of a popular TV show.

Sleeman said, “Our theme this year is the Amazing Race Against Cancer, which is based off of the ‘The Amazing Race’ TV show. With our theme we are challenging new and old teams to different tasks that will take place until the Relay for Life event.”

Korbey said in terms of the theme for this years Relay for Life, the first task each team was assigned was to take a team picture and tag their Instagram post with the hashtag “#kscr4l.”

She said, “When a team completes a challenge, they will acquire a point that will count toward who will win a special prize at the Relay [for Life] event. These challenges will take place at random throughout the time remaining until the Relay for Life in April.”

For future events, Sleeman stated that their main concern is to get more people involved in Relay for Life.

“Every year we have a greater turnout than the year before, but we can only imagine what our full event would be like if we had everyone on campus involved like we hope,” Sleeman stated.

In order to achieve the desired student participation, Sleeman stated that the club needs all social media outlets involved, along with on-campus media and people to spread the message by word of mouth.

She said social media is a big part of getting people involved.

She said, “I believe that the more events we put on, the more people will become aware. I believe that we live in a society where we’re constantly on social media and on our phones and laptops so creating Facebook events, groups and reminders are crucial in getting the word out there.”

She added, “But Relay For Life is such a huge tradition at Keene State [College] so such a huge population of students already know about it.”

Sleeman stated that she has been involved in Relay for Life for 16 years, with four years on her high school committee and three years at KSC.

Sleeman added that she also takes part in county and state relays back home in Vermont.

“I first got involved in Relay for Life because they were hosting a hair donation event and I was donating my hair so my grandma could have a wig made. I ended up staying the entire twelve hours and I was hooked from walking with all of the survivors I had talked to and learning about their stories,” Sleeman stated.

Like Sleeman, Korbey has had  long-term involvement in Relay for Life. Korbey stated that she has been involved in a committee position for the Relay for Life for four years, but has participated in the relays for the past seven years.

“When I was in eighth grade, one of my friends asked me if I wanted to be on her relay team, so I joined and I loved it and could not wait for the next year’s relay,” Korbey stated.

The KSC Relay for Life club was started by Sleeman and Korbey and became official as of this year. The duo stated that although the Relay for Life is still happening, they are undergoing a series of changes.

“This is something brand new to us. We have new co-chairs of the event, a new advisor plus our old one, a new American Cancer Society representative and a very young committee. This year is definitely a big year for our new club and our event knowing that every year we have grown in size the day of,” Sleeman stated.

She continued, “We are excited for our returning members and performers but we are just as excited to have new members and performers too.”

Brogan Wessell can be contacted at bwessell@kscequinox.com

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