East Holds Reimagined ‘Relay for Life’

East Holds Reimagined ‘Relay for Life’
Posted on 05/19/2020
This is the image for the news article titled East Holds Reimagined ‘Relay for Life’relay for life collageThis is the tenth year that Lakota East has held its Relay for Life event to benefit the American Cancer Society. This year, though, it looked a little different than in the past.

When in-person Relay for Life events were cancelled through the end of June, East decided to pivot to a virtual event to ensure that those affected by cancer could still receive the things they need, especially during these difficult times.

“We know how much this event means to the survivors, community, and students and wanted to be able to bring this to them even though it's not how we imagined it,” said East student Lauren Rader, who serves as a senior chair of the event.

“After switching to a virtual Relay, we basically had to start over and recreate everything we had been planning since last summer,” said Rader. “We started to think of creative ways we could still hold the main elements of a Relay event and keep them as close to ‘normal’ as possible.”

The committee (which includes Rader, senior co-chair Kennedy Chenault, junior chair Ellie Ford, and junior co-chair Emra Avdic) joined in Zoom calls with other high school leaders across the United States on ways to hold a virtual event; the group also looked at other local Relay events to gather ideas.

The typical Lakota East Relay for Life runs from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. on the school’s football field; this year it was held in two parts on May 15 via Twitter and Instagram. The first part called ‘Honoring our Fighters’ was held from 4 – 6 p.m. and included a luminaria ceremony and fundraising hour.

The Relay for Life team knitted together videos from 15 cancer survivors for the ‘survivor walk’ portion of the event, to honor them and their families. Keri Myers from East’s front office was the guest speaker for the luminaria ceremony, talking about how cancer has affected her family. There was also a special video from Traci Piccolo Dolby telling the story of her dad, Brian Piccolo from the “Brian’s Song” movie.

Each senior also sent in a video stating how many years they have relayed, and who they relay for. A virtual luminaria page was created where people could donate a luminaria bag for $10.

“Because all of our ceremonies and videos were available to more parents and the community through social media, it was a great opportunity for more people to see the impacts of cancer and what Relay is all about!,” said Rader.

During ‘intermission’ at 7 p.m., Lakota East teachers were live on Twitter getting pied in the face (the top fundraising teams selected the lucky teachers).

The second part of the evening (from 10 p.m. until 1 a.m.), was called ‘Lighting the Way Together’ and included some fun entertainment.

Last year, East raised over $65,000 and had over 500 students participate in Relay for Life. East was one of the top 5 high schools in the nation for funds raised per capita. This year’s original goal was $75,000, but due to the format change, the committee revised its goal to $20,000 – with the hope that people will continue donating online.

Before the event started, East’s Relay for Life had raised $11,500 through its online website. During the fundraising hour, the group added over $2000 to that total. Currently, they have raised almost $15,000. If you would like to help them reach their $20,000 goal, please visit relayforlife.org/lakotaeast

Rader and her team have learned a great deal through this experience. “We learned to adapt to many different things that we are going through right now and make the best of every situation. While we couldn’t physically be together for Relay for Life, this we tried to bring the best experience that we can for the students and community.”