Talks with Vox: Relay for Life with Cayla Fappiano

This Friday, for 12 hours beginning at 3 pm and continuing until 3 am, Relay for Life will be hosting performers, events, and activities on Harbin Field to unite against cancer. Vox caught up with co-chair Cayla Fappiano (NHS ’15) to get the details about her involvement in Relay, how the event was coordinated, and what participants can expect throughout the night.

VOX: So what made you want to be a part of Relay for Life and what has made you so passionate about the event?

Cayla: I relayed for life my entire life. I’ve been going to a Relay for Life event in my hometown since I was 2 years old. So, coming to Georgetown and seeing signs for Relay for Life was the first thing I noticed when I got to campus. I’ve had a lot of personal experiences with cancer in my family. So that has led me to be really passionate about the cause and work towards raising money for a cure.

VOX: Is there a difference between Relay for Life in your hometown and hosting it on a college campus?

Cayla: Honestly I think it’s a much bigger challenge to get such involved students to come to an event that happens every year. Something that we see a lot is that we always have a lot of freshman and sophomores come but once people feel like they’ve done it before, they don’t need to do it again. Whereas home relays, it’s more of an annual tradition for families and groups of friends to go. So we’re really trying to create that same mentality here and I think that this year we have been more successful than in past years, but I think that on general on a campus where so many things go, it definitely poses a challenge to getting people to the event.

VOX: What are some ways that you have tried to get more students involved with the event?

Cayla: So basically what we try to do is reach out to different groups of friends or organizations and try to see what they want at the event. This year for example, one of our fund raising co-chairs has been working really hard on on-site fundraising and getting groups to commit to bringing something to the event. For example, one team has a dunk tank and one team is doing a water pong tournament on stage. It’s bringing relay down to the level of what every individual group is looking for. We find that if people think that they’re going to have a place at the event and something fun for them to do the entire time, they’re much more likely to go.

VOX: What have been some of the challenges and successes in trying to coordinate the event this year?

Cayla: I think the biggest challenge is just the sheer size of the event. We have about 2000 people come every year and to fill a football field with tents and activities and line up different performances throughout a 12-hour period is always going to be a challenge. It’s a lot of time to fill and to entertain college students for that long is a pretty big feat. I definitely have a ton of respect for anyone who works for the American Cancer Society. It’s very difficult to be going 24/7 to put on a event and still remember why you do it. In times of stress and it seems like everything is going wrong, it’s hard to take a step back and be like I’m doing this because its worth it and because I have a reason to. And I think that keeping that in mind, is definitely something that I’ve tried to do over the past 4 years and expecially this year.

VOX: How is the organization structured?

Cayla: So we have three co-chairs, and each chair is in charge of an umbrella with a specific goal. One umbrella is in charge of getting the money, and they’re in charge of fundraising and sponsorship. Another umbrella is in charge of getting the funds. So they’re in charge of scheduling the performers and planning the events at our actual event. And the other umbrella is in charge of getting the people. They plan our survivor dinner and work with survivors and care-givers to have some events as well while the students walk around.

VOX: What are some events students should look forward to seeing this Friday?

Cayla: So the event this year is going to look totally different than in the past. We actually picked a theme for the first time. It will be a monopoly theme, so it will be “game on cancer.” If you look at the field it actually looks really similar to a monopoly board the way the tents are arranged. So every tent is a game spot. There will be the “Go” square, and every time you pass you collect a bead to mark how many laps you have walked. The onsite fundraisers we have never really done before so I feel like we will be more engaged continuously throughout the event. So definitely look out for water pong tournaments and different activities on stage, scavenger hunts, and anything that your team can participate in.

VOX: Anything else you want to add about the event?

Cayla: I would just say that I know a lot of people have been to relay before, but this is going to be a year you will not want to miss. It will definitely be different. We are also ahead in fundraising, so we’re hopeful that this year will be the year that we hopefully go up.

Photo: Georgetown Relay for Life via Facebook

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