When you think about Relay For Life, the first thing that probably comes to mind is raising money to fight cancer, followed shortly by the image of people walking around a track while the rest of their teams camp out around the vicinity. These elements are the essence of the event, but fundraising and developing themes before the event are also important aspects. NSCS chapters around the nation are pulling out all the stops with creative ideas for their team themes and ways to raise money outside of direct donations. For many chapters, team captains and members have personal connections to the cause, due to friends and family members that have dealt with the disease. Dave Springstead , Vice President of Community Service at the University of Michigan, shares , “Many if not all of our members have been touched by this horrible disease, and this is a way for us to cooperate with other student groups on campus to fight back.”

Florida International University held their Relay For Life event in early March. Relay is a tradition for the NSCS chapter at FIU; they have been participating for the past 8 years. In order to get a head start for the 2012 event, they signed up for it way back in April of 2011, and were the fifth team to register! According to Chapter President Veronica Fernandez-Barquin, “This helps us to be one of the first to choose the superhero theme, get a great tent location and be able to choose one of the most popular fundraising items.” For their team theme, NSCS at FIU chose Aquaman. The chapter’s time and effort paid off, and they were able to raise almost a thousand dollars.

Early Fundraising: Get a Head Start

The University of Pittsburgh chapter is preparing for their third year of Relay. In addition to bake sales, Pitt started a “Coins for Cancer,” program, and they have been collecting coins since the fall. At Pitt, this year’s relay theme is board games, and the NSCS chapter is representing the Hungry Hungry Hippos!

Event Activities: Creativity Pays Off

Willamette, one of many chapters participating in Relay For Life for the first time, will have a balloon dart board at their section. When discussing the question of “Why Relay?” chapter president Charlotte Abrams pointed to value held by Willamette students of serving the greater community. She said, “Relay For Life felt like the ideal opportunity to commit to such service and allow our chapter to remember who we are as students and NSCS members.”

Themes: Take it to the Next Level

Other chapters participating for the first time are Syracuse, the University of Akron, and the University of Wyoming. They’re busy coming up with creative ideas for fundraising and prepping for their themes. The University of Wyoming chapter is having a Bingo fundraiser and planning costumes for this year’s Hollywood Theme. Fairy Tales and Nursery Rhymes is the theme for the University of Akron this year, the NSCS chapter has chosen Bill Goat Gruff – taking the theme as far as it can go, they’re even thinking about renting a goat and charging people to feed it as a way to raise money during event! The NSCS chapter at Hillsborough Community College is getting ready for their Star Wars themed Relay For Life event, and the University of Michigan is sticking to a classic Relay For Life theme, celebrating birthdays.

At our most recent count, twenty nine chapters are participating in Relay For Life. Not only is this event supporting a vital cause, but it is also an excellent way for NSCS members to get to know each other. Captains are gearing up, attending meetings with captains from other teams at their schools and finding ways to get the rest of their chapter involved. Service is one of the three pillars of NSCS, and participating in Relay For Life is an engaging way to support a cause that is close to the hearts of many. We are proud of all of our chapters participating in Relay For Life and want to highlight what some of them are doing to support the cause.

Visit http://www.nscs.org/relay-for-life/ for a full list of NSCS chapters participating in Relay For Life.