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Fifth Annual Relay A Success

For The Heights

Published: Sunday, February 26, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

From 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24, to 6 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, students packed the Plex for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. This year marks the fifth time that Boston College has hosted the all-night event to raise money and awareness for cancer charities.

The event attracted over 1,400 students, who participated in a walk around the Plex track to raise money for cancer research. Organizers set a goal of $150,000 to be raised by participants.

This year's theme was Space Jam, featuring space-themed decorations and including a showing of the 1996 film.

American Cancer Society Community Executive for Boston College Whitney Downum commented on the meaning of the theme. "The space theme this year symbolizes a cancer-free future," she said.

Downum has been participating in Relay for Life for 23 years now, and this year's Relay marks her fifth and final year working with BC. She is being promoted to work in Relay for Life's Business Unit next year.

She kicked off the night's events with a speech about her personal connections to Relay and her hopes for the night. After her speech, cancer survivors in the BC community walked a lap around the Plex track as the Relay participants cheered them on.

After the opening ceremony, several campus dance and a cappella groups performed for the walkers, who were assembled with their teams on the tennis courts. Set up along the courts were stations for Pantene's Beautiful Lengths and for a bone marrow drive as well as food stations.

"We're really excited this year for the bone marrow drive and Beautiful Lengths, which donates people's hair to make wigs for cancer patients," Relay for Life committee chair Andrew DiChiara, A&S '15, said.

As students gave to these organizations and walked around the track, committee members were setting up luminaria bags around the track in preparation for the Luminaria Ceremony. Each luminaria bag was dedicated in honor of a cancer survivor or in memory of a loved one lost to cancer.

At 10 p.m., the dance performances ended and each student was handed a glow stick. Glow sticks were placed inside of each luminaria bag, and all the students walked a lap around the track with lit glow sticks, placing their glow sticks in bins with words like "celebrate" and "fight back" written on them to symbolize their dedication to end cancer. Throughout the ceremony, a slideshow of pictures of community members affected by cancer played on projector screens.

Once the ceremony ended, various sports tournaments and special events were held among the teams. Volleyball, basketball, and touch football tournaments took place on the Plex basketball courts while karaoke, a dance competition, root beer Beirut, a minute-to-win-it contest, and Miss Relay, a male cross-dressing beauty competition, took place on the tennis courts. These festivities lasted into the early hours of the morning, when the movie Space Jam was shown on the projectors.

Relay for Life concluded with a presentation on the Astra Zeneca Hope Lodge in Boston and its role in the treatment of cancer patients, and the presentation of awards to all of the winners of each tournament and competition.

"It has been the best year we've ever had by far. Everyone has been so great," Downum said.

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