Relay was misrepresented
I write to you as fundraising chair of this year’s Relay For Life, in order to express my great disappointment and frustration with the coverage our event received this Monday from Student Life News Editor Sadie Smeck. While I am pleased with Relay’s front-page placement, as well as with StudLife photographers John Hergenroeder and Matt Mitgang’s tireless work throughout our event, Monday’s article focused disproportionately on the less-than-ideal weather this weekend, and how Ms. Smeck perceived it “hampered” our event.
Well, we on the Relay Steering Committee know definitively that this was not the case. In fact, contrary to the claim made in the article, Relay this year had more participants than in years past (1,783 registered and 143 guests). Furthermore, because our event persevered tremendously in spite of the weather and sharing a date with Mardi Gras, we surpassed our own fundraising goal of $225,000 by nearly $35,000, and logged one of the highest fundraising totals of any event that has ever taken place on this campus.
Instead, however, this article relied on sensationalizing the cold and rainy weather and how it allegedly affected our event, and painted a less than positive portrayal of this year’s Relay For Life. In doing so, the hard work of more than 40 Steering Committee members, as well as 183 Team Captains and 1,783 participants was undermined, and the hugely significant amount of fundraising that was done in order to advance the fight against cancer was undervalued.
If StudLife was looking for new and exciting angle from which to report Relay, perhaps it should have focused on how Relay For Life of Washington University is currently the #1 collegiate Relay in the nation, surpassing all other events by over $100,000. Or, how this is the second year in a row that our event has seen a fundraising increase of over $50,000 from the year prior (last year’s total was over $208,000, also misreported in Ms. Smeck’s article).
These are important and impressive facts that were simply overlooked, for reasons my colleagues and I do not understand. Relay For Life of Washington University has achieved so much this year, and is even being looked to as a model event by other universities around the nation. Reading the subtitle of Monday’s article, “Turnout hampered by inclement weather,” was truly minimizing to those accomplishments and to the people on this campus who worked tirelessly towards them all year long.