Relay for Life

Virginia Tech hosts 18th annual Relay for Life event

Virginia Tech will host its 18th annual Relay for Life event on Friday, April 19, beginning at 3 p.m. on the Drillfield.

Relay for Life at Virginia Tech is a yearlong fundraising event benefiting the American Cancer Society, which culminates each April in an event honoring everyone affected by cancer. The university is one of several across the country that participate in Relay for Life, and every year since 2009 Virginia Tech has been the top raising college in the nation. Since the organization’s inception at Virginia Tech in 2001, over $5 million has been raised for cancer research and awareness.

This year, Relay for Life at Virginia Tech has set a goal to raise $472,000.  At the time of publication, more than 240 teams have already donated $249,000.

“Our goal is $472,000 because we’re just about that much away from raising $6 million as an event,” said Katie Casamassina, one of three directors of Relay for Life at Virginia Tech. “I’m hoping to break half a million this year, because we haven’t done it in the last few years. It would be awesome to do that again to get momentum going for years to come.”

Relay for Life teams come from all corners of Virginia Tech’s campus, including Greek-letter societies, student organizations and interest clubs.

“It’s great to be part of the biggest collegiate Relay,” said Pontea Afzalirad, co-captain of Alpha Chi Sigma’s Relay for Life team. “It’s an experience like no other.”

“I love every little detail about Relay. It’s actually the reason I decided to come to Virginia Tech,” said Casamassina.

The event kicks off with a ceremony welcoming all participants and honoring all the lives touched by cancer in the past year, from survivors to caregivers and those still fighting the disease. Following the opening ceremony, all survivors of cancer will take a single celebratory lap around the Drillfield. After the first lap, the survivors will be joined by caregivers and their teammates. Throughout the event, teammates take turns walking laps around the Drillfield to represent the continuing fight against cancer.

The event will also host booths from teams participating in the event, fundraisers, vendors from the local area and live speakers and music.

“I will be everywhere,” said Casamassina. “I like to walk around the track, and I like to visit all the on-site fundraisers. The night of, I will be by the stage. We also have our fundraising exec putting on a raffle, so I’m sure I’ll be near them.”

Later in the evening, a luminaria lighting ceremony will take place. In the ceremony, luminarias placed around the Drillfield will be lit for cancer survivors, cancer victims, and those fighting cancer.

“Everyone involved in the organization has their reasons for Relay. For those on campus who don’t necessarily have that personal connection, there’s still a way for them to participate in the event. They don’t have to have this tragic horror story with cancer to be at our event and to enjoy our event and to support those around them,” said Casamassina. “At the end of the day, it’s Hokie Nation supporting one another and working towards a goal that’s so much bigger than every single one of us.”