UI campus prepares for Relay for Life

By Dan Shah

While Relay for Life is one of the largest fund-raising events in the world, many University students simply assume it is like any other fund-raiser.

“Isn’t it just a drive collecting money for charity?” said Andrew Schneider, freshman in LAS. “I don’t really know. I know it is a fund-raiser.”

The event, to be held April 8 and 9 at the Track and Soccer Stadium on St. Mary’s Road and Wright Street, is the largest collegiate Relay in the Midwest. Teams raise money for the American Cancer Society and camp out in the stadium during the night.

This year’s event is themed “Margarelayville” and will include entertainment for participants such as singing and dancing groups, games and food. There are also activities that participants can take part in even if they have no specific talents.

“We are trying to organize a really big rock-paper-scissors tournament,” said Lauren Sraga, sophomore in LAS and publicity co-chair for Colleges Against Cancer.

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Like every Relay for Life around the country, the event will also include a Survivor Lap, during which people who have fought and are fighting cancer will do a lap around the track.

“That event is my personal favorite,” Sraga said, because the Survivor Lap reminds her of a friend in Nebraska who is fighting cancer.

“University of Illinois has one of the biggest Relay for Life’s, but it can always get bigger,” said Adam Eifler, sophomore in LAS and a team captain for this year’s event.

Eifler, who is captain of Team KDR, is in charge of the responsibilities for organizing an individual team.

“I think most people think that only teams walk on the track for the night,” Eifler said. “All I knew is it is an event to fight cancer. I had no idea how big the event was. It’s pretty impressive.”

Eifler constructed his team out of members from his fraternity, Kappa Delta Rho, and said the response was enthusiastic.

“Most of the guys have a general idea about what it is, and a couple guys have done it before,” he said.

Along with the traditional way of asking for donations, Eifler is organizing a deal with Qdoba Mexican Restaurant, which is donating 15 percent of sales made this Sunday and next Wednesday when the customer brings a coupon for the relay.

Last year, about 130 teams registered for the event and raised $173,000, which Sraga said was a huge success. This year’s plans include registering 150 teams and raising more than $200,000.

With the goal of registered teams nearly met, Colleges Against Cancer is still pushing for more participants by launching an event called Paint the Union Purple. The event, to be held March 17, will consist of booths set up in the corners of the Illini Union for signups and lots of purple – the color for Relay for Life – throughout the Union.

Teams can register for Relay For Life until the day before and can consist of roughly eight to 12 members. Those who cannot make the event but want to donate may do so online.