Relay for Life returned to East Tennessee State University on Friday afternoon in the Mini Dome as the fight against cancer commenced.

The American Cancer Society’s walkathon type fundraiser has been an annual event at ETSU for several years now.

Teams of volunteers fundraise money throughout the year and get together at the event to celebrate the success.

The event kicked off at 3 p.m. and lasted until 11 p.m.

As described on the ACS web-page, Relays typically take upwards of six hours or more with team members taking turns walking throughout the event to signify that cancer never sleeps.

The theme this year was “Passport to Hope.” Volunteers decorated their booths as a country of their choosing. This included teams bringing different foods, games and music to represent a variety of cultures.

According to ACS Community Manager Jessica Poff, the event included games, food, entertainment and a lap for cancer survivors and caretakers, followed by a reception. Relay also included a luminaria ceremony, which honors all individuals who battled or are currently battling cancer, by candlelight.

Poff went on to describe that the event had an overall successful turnout, and that it was the first time the Relay has been scheduled in March, making it coincide with ETSU Civility Month.

“Despite the weather and so many other things happening around campus, we had steady crowd throughout the day with close to 800 students checking in today,” she said.

In addition to the live entertainment and onstage activities, guests could enjoy a variety of games like pie-in-the-face, karaoke, face painting, plinko, soccer, frisbee and much more.

Poff believes that the event created an atmosphere of hope and positivity.

“It was so amazing to have students from every background and major present,” she said. “I love the diversity of our event; it is open to anyone and everyone because we have all been touched by cancer in some way.”

ETSU student Colleen McKenna, who is the Fund the Cure Lead for Relay, has been participating since 2005 when her grandmother died of breast cancer and a close family friend found out her breast cancer had returned.

According to McKenna, any student is welcome to come to Relay, and organizations on campus have created their own.

The ACS aims to combat all types of cancer for people of any age.

Relays are currently staffed by volunteers in more than 5,200 communities and 20 countries.

The ACS website provides ways for volunteers to get involved in Relays, as well as a link for donations and much more.

According to McKenna, registration for Relay for Life is about $15 for the whole day, and after registering, volunteers are welcome to raise money that gets them levels of achievement.

“During the day of the event, people sell food and drinks and you pay for activities, which are all donations to Relay For Life,” she said.

Other events ETSU provided for the ACS included Bark for Life, where owners brought dogs to an event to promote the organization, and Power in Purple, where nominated students and faculty wear purple the week before Relay to promote it.

A lip-sync battle is also being planned as a future event.

In addition to a successful turn out, it appears that the fundraising was also fruitful.

“The fundraising doesn’t close until the end of the semester, so people can still donate money,” McKenna said.

As of April 2, ETSU has raised $14,259.20 for ACS.

To donate, visit