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Colby-Sawyer Hosts Third Annual Relay for Life

The third annual Relay for Life at the Dan and Kathleen Hogan Sports Center begins at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 27, at 7 p.m. and runs through 7 a.m. on Saturday, March 28. Open to the public, the event raises awareness and funds for the American Cancer Society (ACS) in the fight against cancer while honoring survivors and educating participants on how to reduce their risk.

Co-chairing the event are sociology major Taylor Wright '15 and psychology major Nichole Labelle '15, president and vice president of the Community Service Club respectively, who have played an instrumental role in launching Relay for Life at Colby-Sawyer. The Office of College Communications met with Wright and Labelle to discuss their involvement in the event and their plans for the future.

Q: What was your motivation behind starting Relay for Life?

Nikki: The co-chairs of the local Relay for Life [Kearsarge/Lake Sunapee (KLS)] approached the Community Service Club and asked us to get involved in their annual June event at Kearsarge Regional High School in North Sutton, N.H. As the summer schedule would not work for the college, we thought it would be great if we could organize our own Relay for Life right here on campus.

Taylor: There are a great number of passionate people on campus, including ourselves, who care about the cause. It seemed like an ideal event.

Q: Have either or both of you been affected by cancer? If yes, how did that influence your drive for the event?

Taylor: Yes, I have family members who went through the difficult path of fighting cancer, so it is amazing to be able to gather a large group of people that relays for the same cause. Everyone wants to raise money to help people. Everyone wants a cure.

Nikki: Most of my family on my mother's side has had cancer, actually. I want there to be a cure so no one has to go through losing someone or see someone go through chemotherapy, surgery and/or radiation. I just don't want anyone to be separated from their families due to cancer.

Q: How do you think the event has been received by the Colby-Sawyer community?

Taylor: A good number of students still do not know what Relay for Life is all about, but most have heard the name. Students, staff and faculty who attend the event have a lot of fun and always give positive feedback.

Q: Have you seen any progress in terms of the awareness?

Taylor: Definitely. With each passing year, we notice the level of receptiveness toward the event among students, staff and faculty going up. The actual participation during the night of the event, however, has seen a decline. This is interesting because students know what it is but they do not necessarily want to sign up. The ACS has also seen many internal changes and has reported that there has been a decrease in funds raised nationwide. At Colby-Sawyer, we welcome any form of participation and donations, as everything goes directly to the ACS.

Nikki: As Taylor said, at our first Relay for Life in 2013 we saw participation of around 300 individuals and raised approximately $24,000. Last year, both participation and the funds raised were half of those from the year before. Therefore, we encourage and appreciate any and all forms of participation in and support for the event.

Q: How has Colby-Sawyer helped you in the planning process?

Taylor: Parent & Community Partnerships Coordinator Julie Crisafi Lynch, who is also our club adviser, has been the most resourceful person we've met and worked with over the past three years. We refer to her as the logistics person - she helps us reserve meeting spaces, securing supplies, anything that we need from the college. Our super staff!

Nikki: Julie has always been a source of great support, especially during our first year organizing Relay for Life when we did not have much experience with event planning. It has been such a pleasure to work with her. Now, Hogan Sports Center Director Lisa Lacombe is on the Relay Committee, which is great, as we have a venue liaison during our planning meetings.

Q: How has the connection with Pamela Ritchie '94 at ACS worked out?

Nikki: Pam was our ACS staff partner for the first year and half of last year. Being able to coordinate with someone from ACS who is also a Colby-Sawyer alumna was one of the best things to have happen while launching Relay for Life in 2013. She was so excited to see her alma mater get involved with the cause and was passionate to help us out in any way. She pumped everything up and motivated everyone.

Q: How has this event helped you grow professionally and personally?

Taylor: Relay for Life has taught us how to deal with people from different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. We have learned how to balance our academic, social and professional lives, manage time productively, and motivate others. We now understand that everyone brings their own experiences to the table and that it is vital to manage differences, especially when dealing with such a sensitive issue, to get the job done. We believe it is a great skillset to have moving forward.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

Taylor: I would love to get involved in community engagement in an academic setting. This event has lit the path for me; this is what I want to do to play my part as an active citizen. I would love to work in any non-profit environment. For now, however, it would be great to engage with college students.

Nikki: I love community service, and I love working with kids as well. I am planning to take a year off, research master's programs in counseling, and apply the following year.

For more information on the event contact Julie Crisafi Lynch, parent and community partnerships coordinator at Colby-Sawyer College, at (603) 526-3978 or

- Anurup Upadhyay '15

Anurup Upadhyay is a business major at Colby-Sawyer College and a student writer for College Communications.

Colby-Sawyer College is a comprehensive college that integrates the liberal arts and sciences with professional preparation. Founded in 1837, Colby-Sawyer is located in the scenic Lake Sunapee Region of central New Hampshire. Learn more about the college's vibrant teaching and learning community at

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