Lehigh’s chapter of Colleges Against Cancer held their annual Relay For Life event with both in-person and online components on April 17, for the American Cancer Society.
Mia Rosengard, ‘23, sponsorship chair, said the school granted them permission to have in-person events, and up to 75 people were able to go in person. She said the Zoom option was essential since not everyone is comfortable showing up.
“One of the reasons why the Zoom option is so important to us is because a lot of survivors tend to come to our event and they’re all immunocompromised or currently in treatment, so for that reason, they really can’t risk it,” Rosengard said.
However, even with the 75 person limit, there was a strong turnout for the in-person events which included Zumba, belly dancing, performances by the Lehigh Dance Team and an a cappella group, the Melismatics.
“People look forward to Relay all year, no matter how involved they are during the year, so I think the in-person components definitely brought back some morale,” Rosengard said.
Brianne Giuffrida, ‘21, co-president, said Relay For Life is the biggest fundraising event that Colleges Against Cancer has every year. It’s usually a 12-hour event that takes place in Grace Hall with over 4,000 participants.
“With the crazy outbreak at the beginning of the semester, we decided to push Relay back toward the end of the semester. We were hoping for nicer weather, for the opportunity to have it outside so we could have more people and hopefully to have the COVID-19 cases go down, which thankfully did happen,” Giuffrida said.
Though the Colleges Against Cancer executive board has been planning since August for Relay For Life, they didn’t know if the event was going to be in person until April 13, only four days before the event.
“As of last Tuesday, we had no idea if it was going to be in person or not, so we were sitting there on the edge of our seats waiting, and as soon as we got the notification, it was hectic for everyone on the executive board as we were last minute coordinating everything and actually putting it all together,” Giuffrida said.
In order to be approved for an in-person event, Giuffrida said they had to detail their plans and meet with the CEAG (campus event advisory group) and the COVID-19 Response Team.
Emily Adler, ‘24, is a member of the Lehigh University Dance Team who performed at the event.
“I thought the performance went well and there was a good turnout of people who came to support me and the team as well as Relay For Life and Colleges Against Cancer, Adler said. “I was really proud of the student body for showing up.”
Students and club members were enthusiastic about Relay events being in person.
“I think it (the in-person components) opened the experience up and made everyone more excited to go because Zoom exhaustion is real and people are way more drawn to the real experience,” Rosengard said.
Despite the limited time slot and the challenges of planning a hybrid event, Relay For Life raised $39,391.27 for the American Cancer Society as of April, 21, 2021.