Relay For Life exemplifies spirit of service at Virginia Tech

Since its start in 2001, the Virginia Tech Relay For Life has raised more than $1 million for the American Cancer Society, making the university's event one of the top collegiate Relays in the nation. 

“When the Virginia Tech community is called to serve others, we do it,” said Whitney Law, when describing the university's commitment to Relay For Life. 


Cure spelled on Burruss Hall steps Lit luminarias spell the word ''Cure'' on the Burruss Hall steps. Luminarias are lit in honor or in memory of someone who has faced cancer.

Law, of Amissville, Va., a senior majoring in communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, first became involved with Relay For Life during her high school career. However, she said her desire to be more involved with the Relay grew as she helplessly watched some of her loved ones and friends struggle with cancer. Law is the 2010 Relay For Life director, a position she said she is honored to hold.

“I knew I wanted to be a part of Relay For Life when I entered college and since arriving at Virginia Tech, I have served as a Relay For Life team captain, team recruitment co-chair, and assistant director,” Law said. 


Relay participants camp out on the Drillfield during the 12-hour Relay For Life walk. Relay participants camp out on the Drillfield during the 12-hour Relay For Life walk.

In 2009, the Virginia Tech Relay raised more than $507,000 and recruited more than 5,000 participants. The effort to raise more funds grows stronger each year.

“Giving back to others and living by our university motto Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) is the driving force for Virginia Tech’s participation in Relay For Life,” Law said. “The ongoing support of my Hokie community amazes me daily.”

Now heading into its 10th year, this effort is still sponsored by the Student Government Association. The students are responsible for organizing the 12-hour walk where thousands of participants camp out on the university’s Drillfield and take turns walking while celebrating cancer survivors and remembering the lives of those lost to the disease.

Law said her hope for the 2010 Relay is that more people will become educated about the devastation cancer can bring and that they get involved. She noted that cancer takes the lives of nearly 1,500 Americans daily. 

“Ending the fight against cancer starts with the fundraising dollars that are raised through events like Relay For Life across the nation, each year,” Law said. “If we can continue to get more people involved, there’s a chance our generation will find a cure. My personal hope is that one day my children will never have to hear the words, ‘you have cancer’.”


Hope on Burruss Hall steps The steps of Burruss Hall are lit with ''Hope'' luminarias.

The origins of Relay For Life

Relay For Life began in Tacoma, Wash., when Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon, wanted to enhance the income of his local chapter of the American Cancer Society, while showing support for all his patients who had faced cancer. In May 1985, Klatt spent 24 hours running the track at the University of Puget Sound. As nearly 300 friends, family members, and patients looked on in support, Klatt completed 83 miles and raised $27,000 to benefit the American Cancer Society. Today, Relay For Life brings more than 3.5 million people together annually.

Relay For Life at Virginia Tech was started in 2001 when the Student Government Association was prompted to join other universities across the nation in the fight against cancer. That year, the community raised $25,000 for the American Cancer Society.

2010 Relay For Life raises more than $543,000

Virginia Tech’s 2010 Relay For Life was held April 9, 2010, on the university’s Drillfield. The event began at 6 p.m. with the opening of the survivor’s lap and concluded at 6 a.m. the following morning with a closing ceremony and an announcement that more than $543,000 had been raised. Throughout the night of the Relay, participants were treated to performances by live bands, talent competitions, group exercise classes, wing-eating contests, and line dancing. Donations can be accepted until August 2010.

“In order to end the fight against cancer and ensure that future generations do not have to be affected by this disease, we must act now,” Law said. “I encourage everyone to join the movement!”

  • For more information on this topic, contact Katie Gehrt at (540) 231-8068 .

Share this


Spotlight Archive

Look through previous Spotlight stories

Access the archives