Spreading Words of Hope
In order to generate the same enthusiasm that has enabled Rider’s Relay for Life to become a two-time title holder as the “Top Performing College Relay in New Jersey” since its inception in 2009, Relay coordinator Lindsay Galbraith and her 15-member committee knew they had to look beyond flyers and e-mails. They needed a more visible presence.
After much discussion, they had created their brainchild: A marker, a purple dry-erase board and a camera. For the past two months, Galbraith and her team have been literally taking it to the streets, carrying the dry-erase board with the words “I Relay for…” to Daly Dining Hall, athletic events and other campus engagements. In doing so, they ask students, faculty and staff to write why they “Relay” – this is, participate in the American Cancer Society’s successful Relay for Life campaign. Participating individuals then have their photo taken while holding the board.
So far, Galbraith and her team have accumulated more than 100 photos of individuals, which they have posted on the Rider University Relay for Life 2011 Facebook page.
“Last year, the 2010 committee created a ‘Purple Glove Dance,’ which featured student leaders and club members dancing with purple umbrellas and feather boas at different locations on campus. It was shown at the event and it was a major hit,” Galbraith explained. “This year we wanted to cover more ground by asking everyone we meet to write a sentence about why they Relay because everyone is affected by cancer.”
Galbraith said the response to the board has been tremendous.
“We know we can’t reach out to everyone, but we are finding that more and more people are recognizing the board and are requesting to have their photo taken with it,” she said. “A lot of groups are starting their own take on the project. One sorority is planning to have its photo taken while holding a large piece of white paper with reasons why they participate in Relay for Life.”
So far, more 600 participants and more than 50 teams are signed up for the 2011 Relay for Life, which will be held from 4 p.m. Saturday, March 26, through 7 a.m. Sunday, March 27, in the Student Recreation Center on Rider’s Lawrenceville campus. While Galbraith and her team plan to go out with the board the week of the Relay, they know they have to continue energize participants throughout the event.
Just days before spring break, Galbraith, wearing a purple cardigan and purple nail polish, pulls out a schedule from her purple backpack (one of the colors of the American Cancer Society’s signature event also happens to be her favorite hue). The detailed schedule includes the opening ceremony with speeches by Galbraith and student and cancer survivor Runyon “RJ” Barkelew; designated times for survivors and teams to take laps around the track; and performances by the dance and a cappella groups from both Lawrenceville and Westminster campuses.
Galbraith plans to put a special focus on survivors. In addition to the survivor lap, the community will honor those who have lost their battle to cancer during the Luminaria Ceremony and Memorial Hour. During that time, Rider Vibes a cappella group will perform Amazing Grace.
This year’s event also marks the return of the third annual Miss Rider Relay, where teams dress up one of their male team members in drag costumes. Participants must perform their talents and ask questions. Then they are sent out to the audience with bags to collect money. Whoever raises the most money wins the competition.
“It gets heated. For two years in a row, SGA President (and senior Secondary Education major) Scott Phillips has placed second. He’s been working on his talent for the past year,” said Galbraith with a laugh. “Relay for Life is something that we can do together. We get to celebrate with our friends. You can do something for the community and still have fun.”