Relay for Life announces implementation of theme at benefit concert

Improv group Mee-ow performs during the Relay for Life Benefit Concert.

Melody Song/The Daily Northwestern

Improv group Mee-ow performs during the Relay for Life Benefit Concert.

Amy Whyte, Reporter

Northwestern Relay for Life organizers announced at a benefit concert Tuesday night its main event in the spring will have a theme for the first time ever.

The theme for the event will be “Decades.” Tegan Reyes, co-president of NU’s Relay for Life, said organizers decided to implement a theme because many community and high school relays have one.

“We thought it’d be a great way to get campus more involved and more excited about Relay if we had a theme,” the Medill junior said.

The concert where the announcement was made was held to raise money and awareness for Relay for Life, which benefits the American Cancer Society. It featured various campus performers: a cappella groups Purple Haze, THUNK, Extreme Measures and the X-Factors; dance groups Boomshaka, Graffiti Dancers and Deeva Dance Troupe and comedy group Mee-ow each took the stage in turn.

Meredith Shapiro, Relay’s entertainment co-chair, said the concert served as a kickoff to get more teams signed up for the 12-hour Relay for Life event in May.

“It’s more about getting people signed up and promoting Relay than it is about fundraising at this stage,” the Communication senior said.

To encourage people to sign up, free Andy’s Frozen Custard was provided to all attendees, and members of registered teams were sold tickets at a discounted price of $3. General admission was $5.

At Tuesday’s event, 29 new students registered for Relay at a sign up booth.

“Northwestern’s Relay event is one of the premiere collegiate events in the state of Illinois and the country as a whole,” said Jennifer Briggs, regional director of health initiatives at the North Shore branch of the American Cancer Society.

Last year, the NU chapter was the most successful in the state, raising more than $160,000, Briggs said. This year, Shapiro said, the group is already on track to do just as well, if not better.

“We always want to push for more each year,” she said.

Shapiro said she has been participating in Relay since her freshman year and has been involved with the planning process since she was a sophomore. She said she got involved because her father has cancer, and the cause “really hits home.”

“Cancer is non-discriminatory,” Shapiro said. “It can affect anyone of any age, race, or socioeconomic class. That’s why Relay is so important.”

Weinberg freshman Blair Darrell and Medill freshman Salome Lezhava said they came to the event to support a friend who was performing with THUNK. Though she is not currently registered on a Relay team, Lezhava said she thought Relay was a good cause to support.

“They did a really good job getting the word out,” Darrell said. “I didn’t even know Northwestern had Relay for Life until I heard about this event.”

Relay for Life has no other major events planned between now and the Relay in May, but Shapiro said organizers are brainstorming to come up with more small fundraisers and other ways to motivate more teams to register.

“The students here are really committed to fighting cancer,” Briggs said. “We’re really proud to work with Northwestern Relay.”