Friday's Relay for Life is slated to become the most successful student charity event at the University in the six years since it first hosted the 12-hour volunteer activity in 2004, according to its co-chairs.
There is already a record-breaking number of registered participants competing on 84 teams during this year's relay, said Jasmina Stritof '11, one of the event's co-chairs. The event, which will take place in the Olney-Margolies Athletic Center, had also already received more than $83,000 through its Web site as of Thursday night — a total which does not include an additional $11,000 in registration fees, other donations and between $7,000 and $8,000 that Stritof said she anticipates raising at the event itself. She said she hopes the relay event will raise more than $100,000, which would break the previous fundraising record of $98,646 set in 2006.
"This will be the biggest charity event Brown has seen in seven years," Stritof said. In Brown's inaugural relay in 2004, 750 people participated in the event, which was the highest turnout before this year's registration — 763 as of late Thursday night — broke the previous record, she said. Last year, there were 497 participants and 60 registered teams, which raised $60,000.
This year's surge in participants is due in large part to increased publicity efforts, Stritof said, adding that this year's organizing committee — which has 50 members compared to last year's 15 — has been instrumental in generating awareness for the event.
"Our committee is extremely enthusiastic and dedicated," Stritof said. "We just have the manpower." The committee has been aggressively promoting the event, which she said has sparked unprecedented community support.
"I've been involved in Relay For Life since freshman year," said Kenji Morimoto '11, whose mother was affected by cancer. Besides seeing the results of the organizers' ongoing efforts, he said he is looking forward to participating in an event with people who are "passionate about what I'm passionate about."
Indu Voruganti '12 said she is also participating in the event to support people she knows who have been affected by cancer.
"My family and my friend have been touched by cancer in so many ways," she said. "I think it'll just be a great way for all of us to come together."
Brown held its first Relay for Life event in 2004 to raise funds for the American Cancer Society and increase awareness for those affected by cancer. During the event, teams of between eight and 15 members walk from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. around the track in the OMAC.
In addition to the traditional celebratory first lap, this year's event will feature themed laps, including a three-legged race and a lap during which participants will walk blindfolded, Stritof said.
The walk-a-thon will also feature a plethora of entertainment options to keep participants occupied, said Sam Karshenboym '12, the event's other co-chair. There will be a lion dance, eating contests, bagpipes — "to get some great energy in the room," he said — and performances by a cappella and dance groups throughout the night's marathon celebration.
"We're going to have a carnival-esque kind of feel to it," Karshenboym said. "That's what we're going for."
In addition to catering by Taste of India, free pizza from Nice Slice, a popcorn machine and a raffle offering prizes including a flat-screen television and a Wii, there will be a moon bounce, which Karshenboym said he managed to acquire for the event despite facing "a number of obstacles." There will also be four workshops, including a Zumba session and instruction from a variety of dance groups.
The only requirement during the event is that "one member of each team is always on the track to show that cancer never sleeps," Karshenboym said. "This is not a race. There is no running."
The event is not limited to those who pre-registered, he said, adding that anyone can participate in the celebration by paying a $20 fee at the door.
"This is, after all, a community event," he said. "We've been looking forward to this event since September, and it's finally here."