“Superheroes” is the theme of this year’s Relay for Life, which will be held Saturday, March 24, through Sunday, March 25.
Meaghan Haugh

RJ Barkelew (center) participated in Rider's Relay for Life.

For the past four years, Rider students have done the extraordinary.

Since its inception in 2009, Rider’s Relay for Life has been named a two-time title holder as the “Top Performing College Relay in New Jersey,” raised more than $160,000 for the American Cancer Society and has become the biggest student-run event on the Lawrenceville campus.

So it seems only fitting that organizers chose “Superheroes” for the theme of this year’s Relay for Life. The American Cancer’s Society’s signature fundraising event will take place from 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 24, through 8 a.m. on Sunday, March 25, when teams will take turns walking or running around the track of the Student Recreation Center.

Lindsay Galbraith ’12, Relay for Life event chair, said the enthusiasm for this year’s Relay has been tremendous so far. Galbraith said several teams created names that fit the Superhero theme, including Hillel Heroes, Mission Possible, Residence Hulk Association, Rider Education Department “Super Teachers” and Team Flash. Organizers hope to raise more than $60,000 and attract 1,000 participants. So far, there are 693 participants, 62 teams and more than $18,500 raised.

“I think we will do well. We usually see a significant increase after spring break,” said Galbraith, adding that organizers are promoting on-site fundraising such as caricatures and silent auction baskets at this year’s Relay.

The Relay for Life Kickoff was held on March 7 and featured a Superhero-themed lunch menu in Daly Dining Hall and an evening presentation by Josh Sundquist, a cancer survivor and paralympic athlete. A member of the 2006 U.S. Paralympic Ski and U.S. Amputee Soccer teams, Sundquist talked about overcoming one’s disabilities and fighting cancer. 

Last year, the Relay for Life committee generated enthusiasm leading up to the event by carrying a purple dry-erase board with the words “I Relay for…” around campus, asking students, faculty and staff to write why they participate in the American Cancer Society’s event. Participating individuals then had their photo taken while holding the board. In order to generate the same enthusiasm, this year’s committee came up with another conversation piece. Galbraith bought a wooden chair, which she painted bright purple.

“We are taking the chair around campus and filming people sitting in the chair and talking about how cancer has affected them,” she explained. “It’s like the purple board, but amplified.”

The film, which will premiere at the 2012 Relay for Life, will focus on the American Cancer slogan, “Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back.”

“First, we are going to have survivors talk about how they won the fight. Then the ‘Remember’ section will highlight students and other people on campus talking about a loved one lost,” Galbraith said. “Then ‘Fight Back’ is going to focus on the Relay event, including favorite parts of relay and the memorable ceremonies."

This year’s Relay for Life will also feature a number of performers, including R Factor winner Erik Krieg ’14, the Rider Dance Team and Dance Ensemble, the musical group The Asia Project and comedian Christela Alonzo.

In addition to the survivor lap at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, the community will honor those who have lost their battle to cancer during the Luminaria Ceremony and Memorial Hour, beginning at 10:30 p.m. The fourth annual Miss Rider Relay pageant will begin at midnight. During the competition, 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. The Relay will end at 8 a.m. on Sunday with a closing ceremony and awards.