The Game of Life: UB Relay for Life raises over $50,000


Shawn Kobetz, a senior communication major and member of Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi), has been participating in Relay for Life since the sixth grade. This year, he was one of the three top fundraising participants for Relay For Life. He was 20 percent away from reaching his goal of raising $2,500, topping off at $2,000.

“I think it’s cool how all of Greek Life is here, all together and it’s a way for everyone to get together to fight for something,” Kobetz said.

Kobetz’s fraternity collectively raised more than 100 percent of its goal – finishing with $3,158.23.

UB Relay For Life celebrated its 10th year at its 12-hour event on Friday. The event, created by the American Cancer Society, raises money to fight cancer and aims to increase cancer awareness and celebrate cancer survivors. It is an overnight fundraising walk as teams “camp out” overnight and members walk around the track.

Students, faculty and other members of the Buffalo community joined together to raise money to find a cure. This year 84 teams and 1,486 participants raised $52,930.15, according to the Relay For Life website.

Kobetz and his fraternity held a fundraising event at Chipolte and spread the word through email campaigns and Facebook posts. AEPi has always participated in Relay For Life.

“When we all joined the frat we were told that Relay is something that we always do,” Kobetz said.

Different clubs and organizations had tables set up on the outskirts and the inside of the track. They were decorated with food, candy, games and poster boards to provide participants with information, laughter and fun.

Participants also enjoyed performance entertainment from UB Breakdance, UB Kickline, UB Improv, the Latin American Student Association (LASA) and other groups.

Throughout the night participants played games like musical chairs, tug of war and Minute To Win It.

This year’s theme for Relay was The Game of Life.

The Relay for Life committee typically sends surveys to participants right after the event to come up with the next year’s theme. This year the committee approached it differently – they walked around during the event and asked participants to say what theme they would like. At the end of the evening, they counted how many votes each idea got. The committee then sent out a Survey Monkey for people to vote on the idea they like best.

If they don’t get many replies, then the committee decides, according to Julie Smith, the Relay for Life staff adviser for UB.

“There are between 1,500 and 1,900 people who come to [the event] at the end of the day,” Smith said. “That includes survivors, committee members and students who participate.”

As of Thursday there were about 1,000 students who were registered to participate, but there are many people who decide to come to the event the night of, according to Smith.

Sarah Narkiewicz, a junior occupational therapy major, is the social media chair for UB Against Cancer, a student-run organization that fundraises money for cancer research. Her father is a cancer survivor.

“I heard about Relay before college, but my [teaching assistant] in a class was a part of Relay for Life. She told us a story and I decided to join,” Narkiewicz said. “It exceeded my expectations, it was just so much fun.”

Narkiewicz said her favorite part of the event is the Luminaria Ceremony.

During this ceremony, luminaria bags decorated with words and pictures are placed on the outside of the track. The bags are made by participants to honor those who have lost their battle with cancer and allow participants to remember loved ones and to honor those who are still fighting.

During the ceremony, the bags are illuminated in the dark.

“It’s always really touching, I think after the event more people get involved because they realize what were doing this for,” Narkiewicz said. “A lot of people don’t realize what it actually is, and when they watch the video it all becomes more real.”

As soon as Relay for Life ends, the planning for the next year’s event begins. The committee meets in August to work out the details of the fundraiser.

Samantha Brenner is a staff writer and can be reached at