For students like Celia Murphy-Pearson, whose father passed away from cancer in January, watching the Boston College community come together at Relay for Life is particularly meaningful.
“It is just really special to see how so many people have been affected by cancer, and [it] just shows you kind of the amount of support you have in this community,” Murphy-Pearson, MCAS ’25, said.
Students gathered Friday night from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. in the Margot Connell Recreation Center with Relay for Life and The American Cancer Society to stay up for twelve hours in an attempt to symbolize the journey a cancer patient goes through.
The event opened with powerful stories from survivors. Maggie Kelly, co-president of Relay for Life of BC and MCAS ’22, then announced Murphy-Pearson as this year’s top individual fundraiser, contributing over $8,000 for her “Hardey/Chevy” team that raised over $11,000.
“We raised all the money in only four days,” Murphy-Pearson said. “I sent the fundraising information to my family on Monday, and then I put it out on Facebook earlier [Friday].”
According to the Relay for Life of BC website, the other top fundraisers included the “BC Men’s Rugby Team” and “Forty Two & Friends.”
“A lot of [the fundraising] is based on the students who sign up,” Kelly said. “Students mainly share the fundraising page, post on their Instagram stories, and ask for donations. Honestly, a lot of it is student-based because they send it out to family members.”
Jillian Fahy, co-president of Relay for Life of BC and MCAS ’22, said that this year’s event was particularly special because it has been three years since Relay for Life members and the BC community have been able to gather together all in one place.
“This event for us, especially this year, the actual physical event, means a lot because we haven’t had an event since 2019,” Fahy said. “Now being co-presidents and running the entire event, we have so much appreciation for what goes into planning something like this.”
Attendees cheered three cancer survivors who were present at the event as they walked the first lap around the luminaria bags, dedications students made to those who have battled cancer.
“We love them and we support them,” Fahy said. “They mean so much to us and we’re so proud of them for their battles. And Relay for Life of BC will always be there for every survivor, not just the ones who are registered here.”
Kelly said that for many members of the club, it is comforting to know that so many other people have been affected by cancer and that there is a community of people who want to make a difference.
“We do have over 100 committee members,” Kelly said. “So it’s awesome that we’re able to touch people’s lives at BC and kind of show them that there are a lot of people out there in the same boat as them who are really there to kind of relay for a cure and try and beat this disease.”
As the night went on, attendees were able to engage in games, karaoke, sunrise yoga, and watch performances from various groups on campus such as The Bostonians and Boston College Irish Dance.
“We also have tons of student groups who are volunteering their time,” Gabriella Ligresti, spirit and activities committee chair for Relay for Life of BC and LSEHD ’23, said. “They get nothing out of performing, and they’re doing so. I think that it shows how close knit, despite being a big school, the BC community is.”
At the end of the night, Relay for Life of BC had raised $77,315, but donations are being accepted through the end of the year, according to Fahy.
“The event was a huge success especially considering it was our first one in the new gym,” Fahy said. “We had a great turnout from the BC community with about 350 people in attendance from the start of the night and about 100 people that stayed with us until we closed our night out at 6 am!”
Featured Image by Natalie Arndt / Heights Editor