A slideshow of faces plays at the front of Mem Gym as the track fills with students who walk along a circle of luminaries. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, cousins, and friends flash up on the screen, and groups of students join together in their walk: some crying hand in hand, and some fixed with the gaze of determination against a common enemy. In this crowd, members of UVA’s Greek community walk with each other and with a greater UVA community. The faces of the slideshow represent those whom have fallen victim to the common enemy, an enemy that has been recognized by so many Greeks as a worthy opponent: cancer.
Each year, students join together to raise money for the American Cancer Society with several fundraisers throughout the school year and a culminating Relay for Life overnight event. The Greek community composes a large portion of the students that get involved with this organization.
Katie Bailey, an event chairman for Relay for Life at UVA and a third-year in Chi Omega, is continually inspired by the large response from the Greek Community.
“For our event, we had almost 30 different sorority and fraternity teams that raised over $65,225 towards our cumulative fundraising total. If this isn't an example of the Greek community coming together for the same cause, I'm not sure what is," said Katie on the topic.
Greeks dedicate time to Relay for Life in a variety of forms. Whether it meant working on an executive committee to organize Relay events or forming a team in order to raise money and participate in the overnight event, the Greek body came forward as an undeniable force in the fight for a cure here at UVA. The expansive social network that is created by Greek life at UVA proved to be an extremely beneficial element of publicity for Relay for Life. The Greek community’s readiness to recognize cancer research as a worthy cause led to cooperation and teamwork between members of different houses.
Katie says that one of her favorite parts about Relay for Life at UVA is “how it brings everyone together over one cause that we all have in common: the fight against cancer. Everyone has been affected by cancer in some way -- whether it's a family member, a friend, or someone related to a fraternity brother or sorority sister.”
Katie explained the reason why her sorority’s involvement in particular meant so much to her.
"This past year, it was inspiring to see my sorority come together and raise almost $25,000 for Relay and the American Cancer Society in honor of a sister whose mother lost her battle with cancer this past fall," she said.
This community dedication highlights the true reason for Relay for Life. The organization provides a forum for students, both Greek and non-Greek, to use their time and skills to fight back against a disease that has affected so many lives.
As of April 21, Relay for Life at UVA has raised a staggering $165,225 toward cancer research. Greeks involved with Relay are responsible for a large portion of this success. Relay for Life at UVA will continue to thrive with support of the Greek community at UVA, as fraternities and sororities join together in working to finish the fight against cancer.