With John Carroll University’s Relay for Life being less than a month away, fundraising efforts are in full swing to close the door on cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, over the last five years, since JCU started participating in the Relay for Life program, the campus community has raised over $200,700. Of that total, only about $8,000 was raised by faculty.
Senior Christopher Haering, a member of the JCU Relay planning committee, said, “Every dollar that is raised for the American Cancer Society is a dollar that is appreciated, and we are proud of the contributions that John Carroll University has made in the past four years.”
Junior Cory Gotowka, another member of the Relay planning committee, expressed his concern about this inequity. “One of the most challenging parts of running a Relay for Life at a college campus is the fact that college students are on [a] college budget. So we need the faculty’s help, and we are challenging them to come out and participate.”
This year, 310 people have already signed up, and there are close to 40 teams, with a fundraising total of over $11,000. Individually, Gotowka leads the fundraising efforts with $755 raised with the “Life of the Party” team.
The Relay for Life planning committee, which consists of 13 students and a faculty advisor, believes the number of participants will double as the event approaches. As of March 4, only two of the 310 participants signed up were faculty and staff members.
Of the $11,600 raised so far this year, approximately $9,500 of that has been raised by students, according to Haering. The $2,000 that has been raised by the faculty and staff came primarily from the Relay committee’s Casual for Cancer fundraiser. For this fundraiser, faculty is allowed to wear jeans on Fridays if they pay $2 per day.
Having faculty and staff participation in this event is a very important aspect of the program that has been lacking since Relay came to JCU, said Haering, who holds a regional position for Relay for Life.
“I have talked with students from other universities with comparable sizes and their faculty/staff involvement outweighs ours tremendously. We are a Jesuit University promoting one of the biggest pillars that our school was founded upon – service and charity,” said Haering.
The committee does acknowledge that certain faculty members have been very helpful with the Relay for Life program.
Haering said, “There have been faculty [and staff] members who have been great to work with. Mike Roeder and Rory Hill have been great. Facilities and grounds [departments] have been supportive throughout.”
But this still doesn’t meet their expectations for staff participation. “In four years, we have never had a faculty team and have had very limited participation the day of our event,” said Haering. He said that they have presented at three separate faculty meetings and individually contacted professors that they know personally.
Participation from graduate students has also been lacking. Haering said, “We have never had a graduate student team or any involvement from them.” The committee hopes to see this change for the upcoming Relay.
“Every person has a reason to relay, and it would be great if the faculty realized that on top of our course loads, jobs, extra involvement, etc. that we are taking the time to dedicate to such an amazing cause,” said Haering.
“Life of the Party” team captain senior Anna Genova said, “Relay gives me the unique opportunity to celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and support the American Cancer Society’s lifesaving mission by fighting back against a disease that has already taken too much.”
Gotowka explained why this program is so important to him. “I relay for my father, my hero. I relay because cancer sucks. I relay because it is not a fair disease, one in which it touches everybody. I relay for those who died too young. I relay for those who are in constant pain, with poison going through their veins. I relay for those strong individuals who made it through. I relay for their caretakers who fought side by side.”
This year, Relay for Life will take place on the Hamlin Quad from 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 30 to 7 a.m. on Sunday, May 1. The Relay Committee is excited to have JCU President the Rev. Robert Niehoff, S.J., deliver the opening prayer and challenges the staff and graduate students to finally rally behind the cause and support Relay for Life with higher attendance and donations than ever.