JMU to host annual Relay For Life


SUMMARY: JMU will be hosting its annual Relay For Life in April to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

By Grace Mathias, editorial assistant

For nearly two decades, James Madison University has hosted Relay For Life. This year, despite COVID-19, the event will be held again. It will take place from 6:30 to 11 p.m. on Friday, April 9, in a hybrid format.   

Relay For Life is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. The community event honors cancer survivors and those who lost their lives to cancer, as well as their caregivers.   

Fundraising is tough during these turbulent times, but donations help fund cancer research and patient care programs that are needed now more than ever because of COVID-19. These programs include a hotline for patients, rides to and from treatments, and lodging for when treatments are too far from home.  

Relay consists of an opening ceremony, a Luminaria Ceremony, games, performances, competitions and a closing ceremony. Throughout the JMU event, participants walk laps around Hillside Field.  

During the Luminaria Ceremony, different relationships are announced and if the relationship applies to an individual, that person lights a luminaria—a decorated paper bag with a candle inside—and starts a lap.

“Relay For Life is an event that really brings together the entire student body,” said Whitney Minnick (’11M), senior development manager for the American Cancer Society. “Nearly everyone knows someone [who] has been affected by cancer in some way, so it’s an event that everyone can relate to. I know that many friendships have been made due to the bonds that form through Relay For Life.” 

JMU is the second-largest collegiate Relay For Life chapter in the U.S. and the biggest fundraising event for a philanthropic cause on campus, according to Minnick. Last year, JMU raised more than $155,000. This year's fundraising goal is $200,000. JMU students, faculty, staff and community members can band together to form a team. To date, more than 80 teams and 1,100 participants have signed up for the 2021 Relay.  

Students, faculty and members of the JMU community walk laps around Hillside Field to honor those fighting cancer.

Junior accounting major Hayley Kumpf, executive board member of JMU Relay For Life, is guided by a vision to live in a cancer-free world. She said getting involved is a great way to give back and make a direct impact on changing lives.  

“It builds a community because you never really know what someone is going through,” she said. Kumpf participates to honor her parents and her aunt.  

This year's Relay For Life has been adapted to accommodate COVID-19 protocols. The Luminaria Ceremony will be held in-person, while all other events will be held virtually.  

“Through coming together as a community and fundraising, we can help make a change,” Kumpf said. “We are a community, and together we can make a difference.”   

Relay For Life gives Dukes the opportunity to form a tight-knit community to fight against cancer. To learn more, donate a luminaria or get involved with JMU Relay For Life, visit this webpage.


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Published: Friday, March 26, 2021

Last Updated: Thursday, April 8, 2021

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