A “Typical” Weekend at William & Mary

The title lies. There’s no such thing as a typical weekend at W&M. Don’t believe me? Well, the other weekend, I stayed up overnight with more than 600 other students, painted breasts on people’s faces, and got arrested. All in one night. And all in the honor of cancer research.

It was all at W&M’s Relay for Life. Partnered with the American Cancer Society, 605 William and Mary students fundraised like crazy, stayed up all night, walked a countless number of laps, and ultimately raised over $43,000. And if the money the event raised wasn’t incredible enough, the experience itself was.

Spottie Hotties Relay for Life Team

Spottie Hotties Relay for Life Team

This was my first Relay for Life. My freshmen hallmates and I created the “Spottie Hotties” team (we’re from Spotswood Hall, therefore the ingenious name). I had heard from my other teammates that Relay for Life was so much fun and so beautiful and so touching, etcetera, etcetera. Obviously, I didn’t really take it to heart; I just thought it’d be cool to stay up overnight and put a tent up on Busch Field.

I was proven wrong within the first 30 minutes of the event. Relay tradition has it that the first lap around the field be the “Survivor Lap”. So, all the cancer survivors at the event took their first lap around as all the other 600+ students clapped and cheered on. It set the tone for the rest of the night. For the next 10 hours, everyone was buoyant and excited, but everyone still remembered why we were there.

In the end, Relay for Life was a big, huge overnighter party. It was a celebration for the people who have survived and a party to recognize the lives of those who haven’t. There was never a moment of mourning or despair. No one, especially the survivors, showed an ounce of cynicism or depression. Rather, the cancer survivors at the event only expressed thankfulness and hope, something that seemed to then resonate to every student there.

Yes, Relay for Life was a massive party. This is where I can start explaining to you why I drew breasts on people’s faces and

Students walking around the track during the Luminaria ceremony

Students walking around the track during the Luminaria ceremony

was arrested. Well, all the teams could continue to fundraise at the actual event. So, you would think teams would bring cookies and brownies and sell them, but W&M students like to spice things up. So, my team, the Spottie Hotties, decided to do some face painting. Coincidentally, because we were advocating breast cancer awareness, a couple students asked us to paint, well, boobs on their faces with a breast cancer ribbon next to it. Little did I know, but I was actually a very adept artist. Other teams thought of extremely creative fundraisers as well. There was one point that I looked across the field and thought, “This can only happen here”. A team was dragging around a wooden wagon and offering rides, while a yoga class was meditating behind me, while another team was issuing arrest warrants on other students. This is how I got arrested. The pre-law fraternity Phi Alpha Delta, appropriately sold arrest warrants as their fundraiser. A student could buy an arrest warrant, have one of his/her “friends” arrested, put into plastic handcuffs, and then put behind bars until someone else posts bail.

Anyway, it was about 4am, somewhere between the somersault lap and the log roll lap around the field, that everything my friends had told me about Relay hit me. It was that perfect juxtaposition of honoring and celebrating cancer victims and survivors, all with that distinct William and Mary spirit. Over a weekend, William and Mary students camped out, partied for 12 straight hours, and raised over $43,000, all at the same time.

Like I said, there is no such thing as typical weekend at William and Mary.

Categories: Campus Life, Community Engagement & Service, Student Blogs, Traditions & Events, Williamsburg

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