As the University of Mississippi prepares to honor those who lost their lives to cancer, student organizers for Relay for Life readies for their upcoming Night of Hope Gala.
The Night of Hope Gala will take place starting at 5 p.m. on April 7 at the Powerhouse. The event will feature live music, food from local restaurants, a raffle and a silent auction.
The organization is hoping to meet a goal of raising $30,000 through the event. Last year’s Relay for Life fundraiser raised $18,000.
Pharmacy student Anna Crider is a student organizer for Relay for Life. She said there are currently 26 student teams registered to participate in the event, including new additions from past years.
“There are several new teams this year, such as the SMACS Chemistry Society and several Greek organizations including Alpha Phi, Sigma Phi, Chi Psi and Kappa Psi,” Crider said.
Pre-sale tickets for the event can be purchased online for $20. Tickets purchased at the door are $25. Each ticket provides guests with four food and drink tickets for the night.
Through ticket sales and fundraising, the organization has already raised $3,649 for the American Cancer Society.
Crider said there are multiple ways for students to get involved in raising money for the event.
“Fundraising works through either asking donations online through the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life team and participant page,” Crider said.
In addition to fundraising, students can also purchase luminaria for $10, lanterns for $25 and torches for $50 with all proceeds, except for 7 percent for overhead costs, going toward cancer research and to fund related programs.
The luminaria bags will be used during a luminaria ceremony during the gala to remember those who have lost their lives to cancer and to honor those who are battling it now.
The Relay for Life committee usually starts meeting in the fall to brainstorm ideas for events and fundraisers in the Oxford community. Crider said the main importance of what they do as an organization is helping those who are fighting cancer and encouraging them along the way.
“This event and Relay for Life are significant to me because it is through our efforts of fundraising that we will be able to provide better research and treatment in cancer, allowing for more birthdays and celebrations, and fewer lives lost to cancer,” Crider said.
Crider said she has seen the power of the organization in her own life.
“My grandpa and grandma are the two main reasons why I relay,” Crider said. “Without the research and services provided through the American Cancer Society, the treatment they both received would not have been successful in prolonging their life and leading to their survival from cancer.”
The event would not be possible without the help of the students on the Relay for Life committee.
Micah Johnson works with Crider as the community manager for Relay for Life at Ole Miss. Johnson also works with several local Relay for Life organizations throughout Mississippi.
“My job is to support the volunteers and to ensure they have all the materials they need in order to have a successful fundraising event,” Johnson said.
Johnson also works with the American Cancer Society on a program called Road to Recovery, where they match cancer patients with specially trained volunteer drivers to go to and from treatments.
Crider said she is impressed with this year’s event and hopes it will set the bar high for future fundraising events.
“It means a great deal for me to be able to host this event,” Crider said. “It can set great precedents for future Relay for Life events and traditions on the Ole Miss Campus and Community.”
– Kiara Manning