Relay For Life participants raised about $40,000 last weekend roughly 40 percent of the $100,356.86 raised in 2007 when John Carroll University was named the top collegiate Relay event in the country for their bracket. The $40,000 is an estimate, according to Office of Student Activities Graduate Assistant Rachel Ball, who served as Relay For Life adviser.
The 2007 record-breaking year was also the first year that Relay For Life, an American Cancer Society fundraising event, was held at JCU. Since then the event has seen varying numbers of participants and a steady decline in fundraising dollars, dropping around $20,000 from year to year.
Ball said, “Every year we rally as much as we can and let it [build] from there.”
This year, 608 Relay participants contributed to the total amount of money raised, almost 250 fewer participants than last year.
Joel Mullner, assistant director of enrollment and 2007 co-chair of Relay, helped bring the event to JCU four years ago when he was a senior. For the past two years he has worked on the event through the role of graduate assistant for the office of student activities, the position now held by Ball. This was his first year without a direct role in the event. Since the event was brought to JCU, he has seen the event experience changes.
Mullner mentioned three major things that factor into the differing fundraising amounts: participants, the economy and a previous sizable donation.
The first two years were more comparable in donations than they may have appeared. “[In 2007] one donor who gave a very sizable donation, did not give a second year,” said Mullner.
Mullner has also noticed that the number of participants could play a role in fundraising. “The more participants there are, the more sense of obligation each person has to raise $100,” said Mullner. “The economy tanking has not helped [donations].”
Ball noted that the amount of sponsorship has also diminished each year. Ball said, “Corporate sponsors have dropped and that is really the bottom line.”
Despite lower funds, Ball was very happy with the outcome of the event. “[I think it was] outstanding! You could feel the energy surrounding the event,” she said.
Other noticeable differences in this year’s event were the ability to stay outside all night and the smaller leadership team, which was reduced from 19 to 13 students.
As reported in the April 15 issue of The Carroll News, Mayor Susan Infeld, a participant in Relay, permitted the event to remain outside all night. Rain forced the event inside, but Ball is hopeful it will stay outside in years to come.
“We were disappointed to have to move inside, but I am hopeful that this year paved the way for future outdoor Relays,” said Ball.
The smaller leadership team was Mullner’s idea. “Some positions could be combined with others,” said Mullner. “We wanted it to be large enough where no one is [overwhelmed], but still small enough to get together [for meetings].”
Ball was appreciative of the leadership team and the volunteers. “Though the 13 students were amazing, we could not have been as successful without the volunteers.”