The Daily Gamecock

Relay for Life kicks off fundraising season with theme reveal event

The local Columbia, SC band “Wacky Dreams”, perform many songs, including covers from different famous bands and artists.
The local Columbia, SC band “Wacky Dreams”, perform many songs, including covers from different famous bands and artists.

Relay for Life's April fundraising event theme was announced as "Casting for a Cure," a Hollywood-inspired theme planning to highlight celebrities who have passed from cancer or who have had cancer. 

Students apart of Relay for Life and other affiliated organizations gathered on Greene Street to host a theme reveal event with a live band, food and men in bras to support breast cancer awareness month. 

Team Development Chair Hannah Johnson said the Relay for Life council wanted to be out on Greene Street today to build students' excitement for the event and get them signed up. 

"I'm working with recruitment, so recruitment wise we want to double our numbers today, teams and participant-wise. Put us in like the 200 to 300 range for participants. So, yeah, just really getting the word out there, meeting people, talking to people," Johnson, a third-year finance, management and marketing student said. 

The organization works in collaboration with the American Cancer Society. It has raised around two million dollars for USC researchers to find a cure for cancer and for early cancer detection, according to Director of Community Relations Michael Giordano.

However, Johnson said the money raised goes beyond the medical side of cancer people typically think of. 

"I just talked to someone on staff, and they do transportation. They just donated thousands of dollars to the hospitals here in Charleston and Greenville that helps the patients get to their chemotherapy and stuff. Because if you can't do that, then you can't survive," Johnson said. 

Business Relations Chair Abby Weitkamp has participated in the organization for three years. She got involved because of her family's history of cancer. 

"One of our mottos is that we don't want anyone to ever hear the words, 'You have cancer,' again. I don't want to hear those words; I don't want my sisters to hear those words, so that's kind of the reason for why I relay," Weitkamp, a third-year exercise science student, said.  

According to Weitkamp, the organization has a special team that reaches out to other organizations on campus to get them involved. 

"We really try and get as many walks of campus involved as we can, because it's something that affects everyone," Weitkamp said. 

Giordano, a third-year real estate and entrepreneurship student, said the theme reveal was the official kick off for their 2021-2022 Relay season, ending with their main event in April. 

"We're looking at around 1,400 participants and around 60 to 70 teams, so every single team sets up their own individual fundraiser. So whether that is pie someone in the face, or whether that's bra pong, or it could be, we've had people in the past that did a Star Wars Movie marathon," Giordano said. 

The "Bro's in Bras" fundraiser supporting breast cancer awareness month is special to him for personal reasons, Giordano said.

"I Relay for my Aunt Jackie. It's her birthday today, she just passed away about a year and a half ago from breast cancer, so I mean, that's really why it makes October so special for me," Giordano said. "We'll have Bro's in Bras on Saturday in Soda City, and people will come up to us and just be like, 'Thank you so much for what you're doing.'" 

Relay for Life will have its final and main event on April 1 at Blatt Field with a total donation goal of $200,000.