Virginia Tech's student-run Relay For Life program wins national award for cancer research fundraising

Volunteers participate in the 2010 event on the Drillfield.

Students, cancer survivors, faculty and staff members, and other volunteers participate in the 2010 Relay For Life event on the Drillfield.

BLACKSBURG, Va., Dec. 6, 2010 – For 10 years, Virginia Tech students have organized Relay For Life, a community-wide, campus-based movement dedicated to raising money and awareness for the American Cancer Society. This year, Virginia Tech received the Gordy Klatt award for achieving No. 1 net income for the 2009-2010 Nationwide Youth/College Relay For Life for the second year in a row. Raising $582,194, the 2009-2010 event has also won awards for top college in participation per capita, top online event for raising $417,428, and greatest number of survivors present, with 136 in attendance.

For this year’s event, Virginia Tech’s Relay For Life coordinators hope to surpass the 2009-2010 numbers with bigger goals. They are hoping to raise $750,000 and have 7,500 participants with 750 teams. Relay For Life already has 199 teams signed up and has raised more than $27,000 as of Nov. 16 for the event in April 2011, with numbers growing each day. Last year at this time, the organization had raised $14,567, meaning it is already ahead in donations.

“No matter how much we raise, whether it’s $750,000 or just $1,000, it’s all for the same cause, it’s all about getting involved in the fight against cancer,” said Emily Feeney of Olney, Md., a senior majoring in communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and Virginia Tech Relay For Life director.

Feeney was Relay For Life’s public relations chairman last year and has seen the event grow over the past three years. She volunteered her freshman year, thinking it would be a great way to be active on campus. “Everyone involved doesn’t just care about the cause, but the university and the university motto Ut Prosim as well,” she said.

According to Feeney, the best thing about planning an event like Relay For Life is that the people on the executive council became so close with each other through their passion for the event and their enthusiasm for being a part of it. “We have a spare change bucket we pass around at every meeting that we call ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world,’” Feeney said. “It reminds us why we’re doing what we’re doing and how much we all love doing this.”

This year, Relay For Life will be celebrating its 10th anniversary on the Virginia Tech campus and will be held on April 22, 2011, on the Drillfield.

Virginia Tech Relay For Life is a registered student-run organization at Virginia Tech. The Virginia Tech Relay For Life website provides the latest updates and explains the many ways to get involved, specifically how to volunteer for the event, join a team, or donate to the cause.

The Division of Student Affairs at Virginia Tech encompasses departments dedicated to providing a rich co-curricular experience and essential student services. Virtually every aspect of a student's life outside the classroom is represented through the division's departments.

Written by Stephanie Paradiso of Rockville, Md., a senior majoring in communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.