On the evening of April 5, the women’s soccer team produced a variety show in Valentine Dining Hall to fundraise for Relay for Life, a 24 hour walk/run headlined by the American Cancer Society that raises money and awareness for cancer research, celebrates survivors, and remembers those who have lost their lives.
The team then participated in the event on Friday, April 13 on the Amherst College track. The team re-imagined traditional fundraising methods for the race by brainstorming a creative way to raise money without simply soliciting donations.
Chloe McKenzie ’14 pitched the idea of a variety show to her team, something she had done in high school, and the team loved it. She worked with teammates to organize the acts, secure the venue, and get the student body behind their efforts.
Each player on the team was charged with the responsibility of sponsoring an act, whether that meant finding and organizing some talented peers or starring in an act themselves. On the night of the performance, Amherst students filled most of the main dining space in Val to watch the acts, which ranged from violin and piano solos to a beatbox routine and from several dance pieces to a music number performed by Nicki Minaj and Drake impersonators.
“The best part of the show for me was how a lot of the people performing would take a moment to dedicate their performance to someone in their life who is or was affected by the disease,” McKenzie reflected. “And that’s what we wanted to get across: while the acts ranged from really impressive numbers to people just making fools of themselves, we knew we were coming together for something bigger than just ourselves.”
On the whole, the event raised over $400 for the team’s total fundraising goal of $1,000. With the addition of post-show donations and some fundraising through their Relay for Life webpage, the team surpassed their $1,000 goal before they relayed this Friday.
Teammate Kate Sisk ’14 co-hosted the show alongside fellow Gad’s member Logan Buckner ’14. “This event was as much about raising money as it was about bringing people together,” Sisk commented. “What made this special was that it was a community building event: the dining service was such a generous host, we had student-athletes and non-athletes performing and sharing their personal stories, the crowd was so supportive of everyone that performed, and even people who weren’t able to come donated to the cause.”
As McKenzie and other team members pointed out, cancer research has become a staple in the team’s community engagement efforts. “The American Cancer Society is a team cause, in a lot of different ways,” Mckenzie noted. “I can definitely see us doing something like this again.”
The women’s soccer team is one of many Amherst athletic teams who do a formidable job forming sustainable relationships with community organizations and causes. Many of the underclassmen on the team worked to mobilize this particular effort, showing that the team’s leadership has done a commendable job encouraging team community engagement and showing that the onus is not just on coaches or captains to seek out engagement opportunities, but on all team members.