With the support of over 65 teams and 832 participants, John Carroll University’s first annual Relay For Life surpassed all goals set, making $76,255.53. Originally, JCU had set goals of gathering 50 teams, and raising $40,000.
Cancer survivors kicked-off Relay by doing the first lap. Each team then took the track, holding a sign that identified their team.
The JCU Gospel Choir, sophomore Peter Niro and a DJ kept walkers entertained as they made their way around the track.
At 9 p.m., all Relay participants gathered for the Luminaria Ceremony. According to junior Marc Hartmann, manager for mission and sponsorships, over 1,100 luminaries were lit, all in memory or in honor of those who have battled cancer.
Junior John Bednar, whose mother died of cancer, was one of the speakers. He spoke of remembering his mother. Later he said, “I feel Relay For Life is the most powerful and moving event John Carroll has ever had.”
Senior Maureen Carroll, the survivorship chair, spoke about her experience of battling leukemia. Carroll explained the struggles she went through over 12 years ago.
“As a leukemia survivor, Relay For Life gave me an opportunity to remember my own struggle,” said Carroll.
She added, “Seeing the campus spring to life on Saturday served as a reminder to myself of how fortunate I am to be alive.”
After the Luminaria ceremony, bagpiper Ryan Dieter led all Relay participants to the Lombardo Student Center.
Event Co-Chair senior Patrick Kelly said that there were several reasons for the Relay to continue inside after the Luminaria ceremony. One concern was the weather, which recently had been cold with a lot of rain and snow.
Security concerns also played a factor. Kelly pointed out that many JCU students were not in attendance and would be coming and going from campus. “If it was held outside all night, we would have had to rent more security, which would have been more expensive,” he said.
A third reason was the availability of bathrooms. Kelly said that the university buildings were not going to be kept open all night, and that would mean port-a-potties would need to be rented.
Finally, noise and lights were an issue. Kelly said, “Lights would have been another additional expense. Plus, the lights and noise could have proved distracting for neighbors. By being inside, we could be as loud as we wanted.”
Overall, Kelly said that he and members of the Relay membership team looked to cut costs as much as they could and as he pointed out, “Every dollar spent is a dollar not going to cancer research.”
Activities and entertainment started when participants began Relay inside. JCU’s own Quanta and Rhapsody Blue sang, while events such as ‘Relay Idol’ and musical chairs were on the gym floor.
At 9:30 a.m., all Relay participants reported to the gymnasium floor for closing ceremonies. Awards were given to several JCU organizations and people.
Kelly said, “I am extremely impressed with the level of enthusiasm displayed by all participants. I remarked at one point to Joel [Mullner] around 7:30 a.m., ‘How in the world do these people have any energy right now?’”
Event Chair senior Joel Mullner felt that Relay spoke for the type of people who attend and surround JCU. “I am so very proud of the enormous amounts of hard work that went into planning and executing the event,” said Mullner.
He added, “The final lap was bittersweet as it drew this year’s event to a close, while knowing that in some small way we’ve made a difference in the lives of others, and that there is no finish line until we find a cure.”
A Relay For Life wrap-up meeting will take place on May 1. Mullner added that donations and money will be accepted through this day.