FIU Relay For Life Raises Thousands In First Fundraising Event Amidst the Pandemic

On March 5, FIU Relay for Life hosted their first in-person fundraising event. Photo credit to @acs_southflorida

Marina Alonzo, Cristina Gonzalez/PantherNOW Staff

Each year, organizations across the country come together to host the national Relay for Life event in an effort to support the American Cancer Society and their fight against cancer. Despite the on-going pandemic, this year was no different. 

On March 5, FIU Relay for Life hosted a socially distanced drive-in fundraiser which raised over $50,000 in funds. The event marked the first fundraising event since the pandemic began in March of 2020. 

Over 160 participants gathered at Lot 9 at FIU’s MMC campus to celebrate life and raise funds. Last year, the event had over 700 participants. 

To comply with CDC guidelines, participants had the option to remain in their cars and tune in to the livestream via their car radios or they could sit outside in socially-distanced seating. Participants could also exit their vehicles when purchasing items from the Marketplace or when doing the silent lap. 

Check-in points were also added to verify that everyone passed the COVID questionnaire on the Panthers Protecting Panthers (P3) App.

“We did everything as directed by the university and what they provided for us.” Patricia Lopez-Guerrero, the faculty advisor for the Relay for Life committee, said.

Those unable to attend the event had the chance to also view highlights from the event on the Relay For Life Instagram page.  

The silent lap allowed participants to go by foot or follow a caravan. The caravan was the first of its kind for the organization.

Similar to previous years, Relay for Life also featured a Luminaria ceremony every other week on campus. The event, known for connecting members of the community together, allowed students to purchase and light lanterns in memory of loved ones who lost their battle to cancer.

Photo credit to @acs_southflorida

“I don’t believe that the ceremony lost any of the importance of it, even though it was a smaller group that participated in it. I believe it was still impactful in this celebration of life,” said Lopez-Guerrero.

One of the organization’s most popular events, Beautiful Lengths and Shave-A-Thon, was also held this year, only this time via Zoom. 

Participants who wanted to donate their locks were able to log on and cut or shave their hair. The hair would then be used to create real wigs for cancer patients. 

Lopez-Guerrero discussed her gratitude for the directors and the student committee who helped with the event.

“I’m incredibly proud of their leadership and the work they did,” Lopez-Guerrero added, “They came into the experience not knowing what their event was going to look like and I believe that they had a vision that they were able to make a reality.”

FIU honor societies, sororities and fraternities including Alpha Phi Sigma, Phi Mu, and Sigma Phi Epsilon were among the organizations that participated in this year’s event. 

Donations for the American Cancer Society are still being accepted until the month of June. You can donate on their fundraising page. 

The board applications for next year’s event opened up on Monday, April 5. To apply and for more information on FIU’s Relay for Life, follow their Instagram or visit the official Relay for Life site.

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