For the students gathered at Woodstock’s in Isla Vista on Wednesday night to kick off preparations for UCSB’s third annual Relay For Life, the enthusiasm in the air had surprisingly little to do with the free pizza offered at the event.

The relay, a 24-hour walkathon benefiting the American Cancer Society, will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 21 at Robertson Field next to the Rec Cen, and will end at 10 a.m. the following Sunday. Patrick Male, president of Colleges Against Cancer and a senior communication and psychology major, said he and Laura Domingo, the Relay For Life chair, hope to raise over $20,000 in the weeks before the event.

Domingo, a junior art history and communication major, led the prospective team leaders and participants who attended Wednesday’s kickoff through an information session about the details of the event, the importance of online donations and the need to encourage friends to participate as much as possible.

“It’s hard to escape cancer, so why not work for something that’s fighting to find a cure?” she said.

Male said he hopes to create at least 20 teams, each of which he said he anticipates will raise at least $1,000 as a group. He also said he felt optimistic about how the relay was developing. For a $15 fee, teams of eight to 10 people can register online up until the day of the event, he said

“It’s really easy to convince people to want to be part of it,” Male said. “I have personally been affected by cancer, and have yet to meet anyone who hasn’t either experienced it themselves or known someone involved.”

Keely Coleman, marketing director for Woodstock’s and senior English major, said Woodstock’s was eager to contribute to the walkathon by providing a venue and food for the kick-off party, as well as organizing a team of its own to walk next month.

“We do lots of fundraisers here, but Relay is probably the most encompassing organization that we’ve worked with,” Coleman said. “It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t care about fighting cancer.”

Male said the relay at UCSB has been organized with the college student in mind – donations are primarily accepted online, and campus organizations have been encouraged to create their own teams.

“The city of Santa Barbara has its own Relay,” Male said. “We’re focusing on serving the campus community with this event.”

Almost 4,000 communities across the country have organized such relays since 1985 and have raised hundreds of millions of dollars annually, making Relay For Life the signature fundraiser of the American Cancer Society. The concept of Relay For Life began with Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon from Tacoma, Wash. Saddened and motivated by the loss of a close friend to cancer in 1985, Klatt ran and walked solo for 24 hours, raising $27,000 through sponsorships. Today, Relay For Life is a popular way to volunteer both on college campuses and in communities across the country.

“I’ve never done Relay before,” said Michelle Neumann, a sophomore costume design major whose sister is a leukemia survivor. “This seemed like a good chance to get involved in fighting cancer.”

Second to the federal government, the American Cancer Society contributes the most funding to cancer research, making the Relay For Life an event with a direct impact on increased cancer survival rates.

However, Male said, raising money is only a part of what he hopes the relay will accomplish.

“It’s really about making people aware, empowering them to make a difference and join the fight against something that touches us all,” he said.

Those interested in participating in the Relay For Life can find more information about the event at