The American Cancer Society hosts its annual Relay For Life on Legion Field in Athens, Georgia on April 12, 2019. The event had carnival games, food and live entertainment, and it ran from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. All the proceeds raised at the event will got to cancer research. (Photo/Daniela Rico)


The University of Georgia is an enormous school, with hundreds of clubs to fit any student’s interests. One of the university’s largest clubs is Relay for Life, an organization which benefits the American Cancer Society through fundraisers and various events. Relay for Life assists with funding cancer research and helping families and patients, through activities such as driving patients to treatments and distributing food.

In such a large club, it can be easy for students to feel lost, confused and like their efforts are going nowhere. Therefore, this year the Relay for Life’s executive team has restructured its club to allow students to feel important and have a real purpose in the club.

The club is aiming to show students it does more than just raise money— it builds a family, bands together to help others and helps to form personal connections with those they help.

“We really want to create that community environment, because obviously we do fundraise, but we’re also here to build a community around cancer and people who have struggled with it,” executive director Tess Barrett, a senior advertising major from Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, said. 

Barrett said she got involved with Relay in high school and continued to participate at UGA because she wanted to find an organization where she would meet people and do something important. Barrett wants to help other students find this same purpose in Relay.

In years past, Relay had various committees and subcommittees under directors, however, those involved felt that some roles were unnecessary which lead students to feel like they weren’t doing anything in the club. They will also have eight committees, four of which will be family committees and the other four being sub-family committees.

The family committees will have a little over 20 people and there is a development, marketing, fundraising and production family committee. The sub-family committees are smaller and will be more focused. For example, there will be a freshman development sub-family committee designated for helping freshmen specifically. 

Relay’s main goal this year is to be more intentional. The directors want their members to feel like they have a special role and purpose in the club outside of helping to raise money. This extends to events, too. Relay wants people to feel like the events were planned and well thought out.

“We had a lot of events last year,” development director Gracelyn Thrash, a junior human development and family sciences major from Marietta, Georgia, said. “We’ll repeat our popular ones, like the 5K and the downtown pub crawl, but we want to be intentional with other events so that we can raise the most amount of money possible, but also so that people enjoy them.” 

Barrett and Thrash both said they want to set themselves apart from other philanthropic organizations by fostering a real family sense. While they know Relay is there to raise money to fight cancer, they want to push their connection and community more than anything.

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