Relay For Life’s $40,000 Challenge

    Keelin Sweeney raising money on behalf of her mother and others.

    In the next 72 hours, Relay for Life at UVA will be attempting to raise $40,000 to donate to the American Cancer Society. In a cross-country competition, 600 campus relay events (both collegiate and high school level) will be competing to be the #1 Relay in America by raising the most money online.

    Altogether, 600 relay teams across the nation hope to raise $500,000, which would cover 5 clinical trials, free lodging for a patient and their caregiver for 500 nights, or free cancer information and support through the Relay For Life hotline.

    Last year, UVA came in 2nd in the nation for the most donations, and their Event Chair, Katie Bailey, was the number one individual fundraiser in the nation, raising $22,000 in 72 hours. UVA’s own Miller Sisson is currently placed 5th nationally.

    The goal of $40,000 is the largest goal set for this Fund the Mission Challenge to date. As Susanna Blauch points out, “there’s hardly a person out there who hasn’t benefited, either directly or indirectly, from the American Cancer Society… our work has helped save more than 1.5 million lives and we are asking for the help of the UVA community to save even more.”

    The team behind Relay for Life is not only enormous, but incredibly dedicated.

    Drew Sounders, Executive Co-Chair of Relay For Life @UVA, had both his mother and grandmother diagnosed with cancer. “Ever since I was little I knew that my grandmother was a three-time cancer survivor, but hearing the “C” word from the woman I loved the most in the world made the battle personal,’ Sounders said.  Although his mother is now in remission, Drew states, “my mission remains the same: continue to fight cancer until it is no longer a major public health concern.”

    Miller Sisson hopes to go one step further and become an oncologist. “y hope is that, when patients walk in, I can say to them ‘You have cancer, but we can do something about it. We have a cure. You’re going to be okay.’”

    Keelin Sweeney, who is Co-Chair with Drew, points out how Relay For Life has grown from just one man walking a track for 24hrs in Washington in 1985, to a huge, cross-country endeavor that is now the American Cancer Society’s signature fundraiser.

    Keelin, who has known many people affected by cancer, comments: “Cancer will continue to be scary, will continue to make me sad, and will forever confuse me, but I refuse to let that discourage me from doing everything I can to beat this disease that has affected my life in so many ways.”

    Relay For Life will also be holding a Date Auction, featuring sought-after dates such as a serenade from some VGs, a guitar lesson with Louis Smith, or a Coffee with Coppick. The event will be at Boylan Heights at 9.30PM, and more information can be found here:

    The challenge ends at 11.59PM on Thursday; help UVA reach #1 by donating at

    You can also track the UVA team’s progress by checking out their Facebook page:


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