2013 marks the last year that the Relay for Life event will be held on the John Carroll University campus. The event has taken place annually in the spring since 2007, when graduates Joel Mullner and Pat Kelly first organized it on campus, garnering much more of a turnout than initially imagined. In 2007, 65 student organizations participated and raised a total of $100,356.86.
The committee in charge of the annual event reached the decision to end the tradition after deliberating over its success this year. Since its first year, fewer organizations have participated and the total funds raised have significantly decreased. This past year, Relay raised $28,255, falling just short of its goal of $30,000.
Board members in charge of organizing Relay concluded that students simply weren’t energized by the event anymore, partly because it happened to fall on the same weekend as several other campus-wide events such as the Manresa retreat and beginning of Greek week.
This hasty decision to quit the event was a mistake. Committee members should have considered hosting the event earlier in the month or even in the semester to avoid scheduling conflicts. Also, although the event has raised significantly less money since its first year, it is important to keep in mind that $28,255 is still a lot of money and will undoubtedly benefit cancer research.
The Relay for Life committee should refocus its energy on finding ways to increase student participation again instead of simply throwing in the towel. Support from the community outside of JCU may be the revitalization that the event needs.
The committee should create a member position whose primary responsibility is to reach out to spread awareness in local neighborhoods, schools and churches. This could be the most important factor in improving Relay for Life’s success.