The committee in charge of Relay For Life decided that this year would be the last time the event takes place on campus. Their decision has come as the result of an in-depth evaluation of the event and the impact it has on the John Carroll University community.
Relay For Life has been hosted at John Carroll University since 2007, when it was brought to campus by Joel Mullner ’07 and Pat Kelly ’07. The pair worked for three years to bring Relay to campus and finally succeeded in 2007, making JCU the first university in Northeast Ohio to host a Relay event on campus.
The first Relay event set a goal of raising $40,000 for cancer research and having 50 teams participate in the event. The event ended up being far more successful than their predictions. Over 65 teams and 832 people participated in the event. In addition, $100,356.86 was raised. Since that first event, Relay has been hosted on JCU’s campus every year.
“As someone who was involved in the inaugural Relay For Life at John Carroll in 2007, it is disappointing to see that the event will not be staged on campus next year, but I understand and respect the decision that was made,” Mullner said.
Since its start, Relay has been a highlight of the spring semester on JCU’s campus, and participants express their excitement for the event each year. But after consideration of the event’s success in the last few years, a decision has been made to change how JCU advocates for cancer research.
Co-student coordinator Spencer German said, “An administrative decision has been made to move in a new direction with cancer advocacy and support on John Carroll’s campus for cancer research and the support of people fighting cancer.
One of the factors in the consideration of doing away with Relay is the fact that the event has raised less and less money each year. In 2010, the event raised approximately $40,000, a significant decrease from the $100,000 raised in 2007. In 2011, about $34,000 was raised, and the amount kept decreasing.
In 2012, Relay only raised $26,426 for cancer research, another $8,000 decrease from the previous year. Fortunately, this year’s Relay raised more money than the previous year, snapping the five-year downward trend. 2013’s Relay raised $28,255, falling just short of the $30,000 goal.
In response to the trend of decreased donations, German said, “The intention [of changing advocacy for cancer research on campus] is to bring renewed energy to the cause while providing students with opportunities to take a more hands-on approach to serving those in the local community whose lives are impacted by this terrible illness.”
After learning that Relay was not going to happen on campus next year, senior Megan Lowes said, “I am disappointed to hear that Relay is not happening. It is such a powerful event every year and helps bring people together to help raise awareness and funding for a wonderful cause.”
However, she also acknowledged that she also noticed Relay was struggling.
“I do see why it would be, though, because in the past two years, I have really noticed that less and less people have attended the event.”
Because Relay has consistently been planned for April, when many other big events are going on, students have to make decisions about how to divide their time.
Lowes said, “The past two years, Relay has fallen on the same weekend as Manresa, Greek Life events and other campus activities. Also, with it being close to the end of the semester, people get busy and the workload begins to pile up. When all of this happens, Relay just doesn’t make it to the top of the list. There is just too much that is going on.”
Since its conception, Relay has been a big part of campus activities in the spring. Lowes explained that it is a tradition for campus, just like fraternity and sorority formals and Homecoming.
German said, “We hope that by instituting a new program, people can still be part of a great cause in many different ways but with increased energy.”
Even though Relay will be missed next year, German is confident that the new approach to cancer advocacy will reenergize JCU to “fight for more birthdays.”
Mullner said, “There are about 50 Relays that take place within a 30-mile radius of campus, so I certainly encourage our students and staff to look at their options and get involved with some of the other community and collegiate events that take place throughout the year. I am excited to see new plans evolve that allow John Carroll University to continue its partnership with the American Cancer Society.”