University of Richmond students raised $5,580 on Saturday for its 11th annual Relay for Life, a 24-hour event that spreads awareness and raises money for the American Cancer Society's cancer research efforts.

Each year, the event is hosted by UR in the Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness. 

The event Saturday started with a dinner honoring cancer survivors. After the opening ceremonies, survivors and caregivers were invited to take the first lap around the gym while participants cheered them on. 

Participants began walking their laps for the relay in hopes of continuing to raise money as the night goes on. The event didn't conclude until 6 a.m. the following morning. 

Although the event raised a lot of money, the co-chairs were disappointed with the low turnout of supporters. They said they hope to revise the date and schedule of activities to improve attendance in the future.

“One of our main objectives was to make sure that we didn’t pick a date for Relay that didn’t coincide with other major events," Raj Patel, RC '18, one of this years co-chairs of the event, said. "Unfortunately, there ended up being a couple of [Greek] socials that coincided on the same night. It’s hard to convince people to show up on a Friday night."

Patel said that mail-in donations would raise the total to about $7,000. Relay for Life is also continuing to accept donations on its homepage

Moving forward, Patel said his goal was to have more people realize that the event is more than just a fundraiserit is a chance to recognize and celebrate those who have survived and are currently fighting cancer.

The 2017 Relay for Life was carnival themed, and included face painting, carnival games and a bouncy house. Over 15 teams participated in the event. Teams were made up of both UR students and Richmond community members.

Among the 15 teams, the one that raised the most money had its team name displayed on the back of the Relay for Life t-shirts, which all participants wore to the event. 

The Zeta Omicron chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma at UR was the lucky winner, raising a total of $1,770.

“Kappa always tries to support philanthropy events on and off campus, and we are always extremely successful with cancer-related causes,” Carly Kilgore, WC '18, president of Kappa Kappa Gamma, said. "I am proud of the impact we made on Relay for Life and we will definitely keep up our involvement by continuing to support and raise money for this organization."

Ellie Masson, WC '18, was a member on Kappa's team and has participated in Relay for Life for many years. Masson's cousin, a cancer survivor, was the featured speaker during the ceremony. 

“I think I can speak for everyone that participated in the event in saying that cancer is something that affects everyone at some point in their lives, whether it’s a friend or a family member or themselves,” Masson said. 

Contact reporter Sophie Pilkington at sophie.pilkington@richmond.edu.