​Rotaract Aims Big with Relay for Life

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

The Rotaract Club of Sewanee decided to make its first-ever community service project a big endeavor, aiming to raise at least $20,000 for the American Cancer Society with a Relay for Life this fall.
About 30 University of the South students serve in Rotaract, which is in its inaugural year and under the umbrella of the Monteagle-Sewanee Rotary Club.
Bill Davis, Rotaract advisor and membership chair of the local Rotary, said at least 1,000 people are expected to participate in the event.
“I think it’s probably the first time that anything this major has been done to bring students, faculty, staff and community together for a fundraiser potentially of this magnitude on campus,” he said.
The Relay for Life starts at 11 a.m. on Oct. 6 and ends at 9 p.m., featuring team members walking the track at Hardee-McGee Field surrounded by remembrances for those lost to cancer, as well as celebrating survivors and showing support for everyone impacted by the disease. A luminaria ceremony is slated for after dark.
Will Murphy, a Sewanee senior and Rotaract president, said the day will be significant.
“These special moments during the Relay are the most powerful aspects that everyone can look forward to, reflecting on the lives and battles of loved ones,” Murphy said. “We will also have food, live music and many fun activities to do while not walking around the track. This event will be a great time to come together as a community for a day.”
The event is student-driven with assistance from the Sewanee community and Monteagle-Sewanee Rotary Club. Organizers said efforts are underway recruiting teams to sign up for the Relay, as well as gathering area business sponsors.
“We are hoping to raise $20,000, but more importantly have at least 100 cancer survivors attend so that we can honor their struggles and let them know that the community will always support them in their endeavors,” Murphy said.
Rotaract Club initially started gearing up in May 2017 after the Monteagle-Sewanee Rotary decided to help form a group at the University. Rotaract is for people ages 18-30, Davis said, making it ideal for Sewanee.
In addition to Davis and others, Sam Kern, the first Rotaract president, along with W. Marichal Gentry, dean of students and Rotaract’s faculty advisor, helped establish the program.
As part of its requirements, the club had to choose an international project in addition to the community project, Davis noted, and “Rotaractors” selected Global Health Charities—primarily providing birth kits for mothers and newborns—as their international effort.
“We can be very proud of what they accomplished in such a short period of time,” Davis said.
For more information on Sewanee’s Relay for Life, to donate or sign up a team, visit www.relayforlife.org/sewaneetn.