Thousands of Northeastern students, faculty, and staff will flock to Matthews Arena on Friday, March 20, to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
Northeastern’s student-run Relay For Life committee is organizing the event, an overnight fundraising walk in which teams of people will take turns trekking around the temporary track.
The fundraiser—which will begin at 6 p.m. and end at 6 a.m.—will include food, live music, and activities ranging from yoga to tug of war. The theme of the evening will be the 90s—you’ll be able to watch the final round of a Double-Dare-type game show play out; make your own Nickelodeon-style slime; and dance to your favorite tracks from Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys.
Giana Manzi, the co-chair of Northeastern’s Relay For Life committee, noted that the timing and duration of the event is a metaphor for the typical cancer patient’s journey from diagnosis to recovery. That’s why it starts at night and ends in the morning, when the sun is rising, when life is renewed. “The point is to show that the journey of the cancer patient is long and difficult,” said Manzi, a fourth-year behavioral neuroscience major whose grandparents died of cancer. “But when the sun comes up, we’ll all be walking toward hope.”
More than 5,000 Relay For Life events take place each year, convening survivors and advocates in communities and on campuses in more than 20 countries. While each is unique, all of them feature an opening survivor lap; a luminaria ceremony to remember those who have died; and a fight back pledge to spread awareness of cancer research, treatments, and prevention.
Some 1,900 participants have already signed up for the Matthews Arena walk, raising more than $125,000 to fight cancer. The fundraising goal is $260,000, donations toward which will be accepted until mid-August.
Last year’s fundraising total of $246,000 ranked No.1 among participating colleges in New England and third highest among collegiate Relay committees nationwide. Since its inception in 2010, Northeastern’s Relay committee has raised more than $1 million, a milestone reached during last week’s fundraising blitz.
The group’s fundraising efforts reached a new high on Thursday, when Manzi and her peers painted the campus purple, Relay For Life’s official color. They stuck purple flags in snow banks; manned information tables covered in purple cloth; and donned purple T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase “I’ll tell you what I want…What I relay relay want,” a play on the lyrics to the Spice Girls’ 1996 hit song “Wannabe.”
“Northeastern students realize what an amazing cause this is,” Manzi said. “Many have a personal connection to cancer and apply that to their fundraising.”