Geneseo breaks personal fundraising record for Fund The Mission Relay For Life event

Relay For Life Chair junior Katherine Bensburg (pictured above) at the Fund The Mission pieing event. Colleges Against Cancer spearheaded fundraising initiatives that launched Geneseo to first place in the Relay For Life Fund The Mission event. (courtesy of Keith Walters/director of multimedia)

In just 72 hours, from Feb. 20 to Thursday Feb. 22, Geneseo students raised $23,108.71 for Fund The Mission, a national three-day fundraising challenge for collegiate Relay For Life events. 

This is the first time that the college has ever obtained first place in the nation for Fund The Mission. 

The money—the most that Geneseo has ever raised during this event—will go toward both cancer research and patient services provided by the American Cancer Society. 

Patient services include transportation to treatment, free lodging for patients in the Hope Lodge, an American Cancer Society residency center, and the informational hotline. Not only does the American Cancer Society fund vital research, but it is also improving the daily lives of cancer patients. 

The donations received during Fund The Mission brought the total fundraising for Geneseo’s Relay For Life up to $57,254.25, which goes toward the goal of raising $170,000 by April 14.

The members of Geneseo’s Colleges Against Cancer, including faculty advisor Patty Hamilton-Rodgers, president senior Grace Rowan and vice president senior Wilson Mei, set this goal.

Last year, Geneseo was fifth in the nation during Fund The Mission and this year they had the goal to break the top five again. 

“We knew that we wanted to come back bigger and better so that we could get publicity nationally for a school of our size amongst all of these large schools,” Rowan said

Rowan credits the success of Geneseo this year to CAC’s marketing and social media team, including creative writing major senior Heather Molzon, communication major sophomore Kathleen Rock and communication major junior Troy Hallahan. 

“They’ve been working tirelessly to create this marketing plan so that the whole campus knew about it,” Rowan said.

Furthermore, Rowan said this accomplishment is also due to the work from the CAC executive board, the Relay chairs, the CAC committee and Hamilton-Rodgers, as well as support from the campus community. 

For Hamilton-Rodgers, a sponsored research associate on-campus, this is her first Fund The Mission as the advisor of CAC. Her favorite part: seeing just how much Geneseo students care. 

“I think this demonstrates how philanthropic-minded our community is. There are some people who make derogatory comments about millennials and I think when you can say, ‘look at what our students did,’ it’s a wonderful coming together,” Hamilton-Rodgers said. “It’s the sheer drive of the participants in Relay For Life. I’m so proud.”

What makes Geneseo’s Fund The Mission success so special? It’s the ways the whole campus becomes involved, according to Hamilton-Rogers.  

“A student at the University of Michigan raised $5,000. We don’t have that,” she said. “Our money is coming from one and two and three dollar Venmo gifts.” 

These small donations, however, add up quickly. Although that student individually raised $5,000, Geneseo raised almost $10,000 more than the University of Michigan, including around $500 through the $1 Venmo campaign. 

“Cancer has definitely affected all of us,” Mei said. “We all are responsible for being a piece of that cure. Fundraising is one of the most important things that goes into being able to fund research and being able to find a cure for cancer.”

Mei further reiterated the importance of fundraising for the American Cancer Society. 

“Especially in this day and age technology is so advanced to the point where we are able to do so many things, and I think we’ve come a long way since 10 years or 15 years ago, but there is so much more to be discovered about cancer and I really do think that we’re the generation that can find a cure for cancer,” he said.  

It’s the passion and dedication of the CAC executive board and Geneseo students who worked hard to keep Geneseo at number one throughout the fundraising challenge. In the words of Rowan, “Geneseo is small but mighty.”

Students who still want to get involved can register for Relay For Life at Geneseo on the American Cancer Society website. The event is April 14, from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. in the Wilson Ice Arena.