Relay for Life charity drive brings in more than $25K


On Friday, Feb. 23, SVSU hosted its 17th Relay for Life in the O’Neill Arena from 2 p.m. to midnight.

This was the 10th year that Colleges Against Cancer hosted the American Cancer Society fundraiser. Jessica Hacker, who graduated from SVSU in the Fall 2017 semester, helped the RSO organize the event.

Planning for the event started in September.

“We usually have a kick-off event in September to announce it, and planning has gone on every week since then,” Hacker said. “We begin by recruiting teams, which can be difficult. It takes a lot to get them recruited and get all the entertainment.”

Because of the RSO’s hard work during recruitment, about 38 teams were attendance for this year’s Relay, including some from the community.

“We did invite two different community groups to join us this year, the Frankenmuth Relay for Life and the Saginaw County Relay for Life,” Hacker said. “As soon as you make a team or join a team online, you have a profile you can share, and people can immediately donate to your team.”

Hacker explained that sponsors are also involved in fundraising, and teams can recruit sponsors themselves.

“Covenant HealthCare is always a huge sponsor,” Hacker said.

Their goal was to raise $38,000. About $25,750 was raised during this year’s Relay season.

“Last year, we were at $34,000, so we hiked it up a little bit to see if we could raise more,” Hacker said.

Donations for this Relay season will remain open until August. Anyone interested in donating still may do so through SVSU’s American Cancer Society donation page.

The money raised will be used in several ways to help those affected by cancer.

“The main cause will be for cancer research and to find the cure,” Hacker said. “There’s also different programs, like Road to Recovery, a program the American Cancer Society hosts that has volunteer drivers take patients to appointments if they live far away. There’s Hope Lodge, which lodges cancer patients for free for however long they need to if they’re going through surgery or chemo.”

Groups use different methods to help raise money. This year’s Relay theme was games.

“Hamster ball is a popular one every year,” Hacker said. “Valley Nights puts it on. They brought a Nerf game this year, some virtual reality games, too. There’s a lot of video games, too. They’re a big hit.”

Several RSOs did fundraisers before Relay, too.

“Rugby does a date auction every year,” Hacker said. “They had to do it before the event this year. … That’s always a really popular one.”

Other games included “Guitar Hero,” board games like “Sorry,” a giant “Jenga” tower, a life-sized version of “Operation,” card tricks and more.

Relay offers SVSU the chance to bring the Saginaw County community together for a greater cause.

“We invite a lot of the community,” Hacker said. “We’re family friendly, children friendly. We’re very open to the community. I think it’s a good way for colleges, SVSU especially, to show that students aren’t stereotypical college students. We do fundraisers, we do family events, so I think it’s very helpful for the community to see that.”

Hacker plans to stay involved with Relay because she believes it is a great cause for the community.

“I first got involved with Relay my sophomore year of high school,” Hacker said. “I have lots of family members and friends who have fought cancer, and fighting cancer and who have lost their battle. That’s why I keep doing it.”

Several Phi Sigma Sigma sisters came out to support the cause as well.

“We did a Chipotle fundraiser,” Kayla Ratejczak said. “Our sisters donated, and we have a table at the Ryder. We wanted to do this to get our sorority’s name out there more and to benefit cancer research.”

Fellow sister Cassidy Badami supports Relay because of the people in her life who have been impacted by cancer.

“My dad had cancer, and my mom has cancer right now,” Badami said. “I do it for them and for everyone else who has been affected by cancer. It’s very common.”