College Fraternities Help Boost Relay for Life
by Jim Amidon
April 18, 2005
A year ago, the Montgomery County Relay for Life was pushed indoors at
Wabash College because of unrelenting July thunderstorms. Still, nearly
600 people of all ages turned out for our six-hour Relay that raised a
Montgomery County-record of just over $60,000.
Regular readers of this column may recall how excited I was, as a cancer
survivor and Relay for Life committee member, that my college was able
to get more involved in the annual fund-raiser for our local chapter of
the American Cancer Society.
So when organizer Ruthanna Williamson inquired about moving the event to
Wabash permanently, I was positively ecstatic thinking about the
possibilities that Knowling Fieldhouse provides.
Moving the event from July to April was deliberate; we wanted to get
more school groups and Wabash students involved. And, we wanted to walk
12 hours through the night.
Friday’s Ninth Annual Relay for Life has come and gone, and I think I
speak on behalf of all of the volunteers involved when I say it was our
biggest and best Relay ever!
Not everybody made it the entire night. In fact, only about 30 hearty
souls walked in Relay fashion for the entire 12 hours. But that in no
way diminishes what was one of the most memorable community building
events with which I’ve ever been involved.
Big thanks go out to Wabash’s Campus Services. The set-up guys and
custodians went out of their way to insure that the event would come off
without a hitch. Brent Harris, sports information director, had never
been involved with the Relay for Life. That didn’t deter him from
working most of the day Friday and all of the night to make sure we had
all the technology and sound we needed.
Local businesses donated hundreds of dollars worth of drinks and food
for the Relay walkers. Businesses donated many hundreds of dollars in
merchandise used for give-aways for cancer survivors and for the silent
The logistics involved with organizing and planning an event so large
are an important part of the work that goes on.
But it’s the heart of this community that really touched me on Friday.
Changes in venue, timing, and length of the Relay did not slow
Montgomery County one single bit. Teams organized, raised funds,
recruited members, and threw enormous amounts of time and creativity in
making this Relay for Life the best yet.
I think about the team from Random House Publishing, who not only raised
some big-time cash, but also brought over cases and cases of children’s
books to give away. And the Athens Medical Group, with nearly 70
blue-clad team members, made quite a statement.
Annette Hitch and the gang from Pace Dairy Foods, as usual, took top
honors in creativity (with a nod to Random House’s Cat-in the-Hat
tails). Once again, Pace brought out a huge team and partnered with
Rotten Robby’s bikes to carry out a bicycle theme.
Wabash men were also a part of the Relay for the first time. The guys in
the Beta Theta Pi fraternity handed Ruthanna a check for $1500, a sum
that may continue to grow as they sell "Wabash Always" wristbands and
partner with Applebee’s on a fund-raiser this week.
The men from Alpha Phi Omega had hoped to stretch quarters all the way
around the track. They didn’t reach their goal, but they were there, at
the end of the Relay, spreading out the quarters they had raised to
fight cancer in our community.
And on a very personal note, I was most touched by an act of kindness
from my daughter, Samantha. She was on her way to the Relay at about
3:30 on Friday when she suddenly realized she had no money to donate to
the cause. She rushed to the garage and found a Relay for Life sign from
last year. She taped a sign beneath it that said: "F-I-H-T Cancer:
Kool-aid 25 cents a cup."
Two hours later, she brought her locked-up bank with $17.53 worth of
Kool-aid money and proudly turned in all those pennies, nickels, and
dimes. (She also brought another sign and a stack of granola bars to
sell at the Relay.)
The Relay for Life really is an amazing event. It takes a disease that
kills hundreds of people every year in this county, lifts it up, and
kicks it in the face. It shouts loudly that together, we can make a
difference; together we can beat cancer.
Amidon is Wabash College's Director of Public Affairs. He writes a
weekly column for the Crawfordsville Journal Review. This column
appeared in April 18 editions.
On homepage: Members of Beta Theta Pi present Relay chairman
Ruthanna Williamson a check for $1,500.
Above right: The teams start their long Relay walk.
On left: A balloon release marked the start of the walk.
Center right: Suvivors a big part of annual fund-raiser.
Bottom right: Sam's homemade sign.