Over 175 Cornell students and Ithacans of all ages rocked out to Guitar Hero II yesterday on a stage in Pyramid Mall in front of a big screen TV in order to raise money for Cornell’s third annual Relay for Life. The Relay is an annual overnight event held to benefit the American Cancer Society. Teams from Cornell and Ithaca College gather together at Barton Hall and members take turns walking or running laps throughout the night.
According to the Relay for Life website, “Relay is much more than a walk around a track. It is a time to remember those lost to cancer and celebrate those who have survived.”
The Guitar Hero fundraiser was designed to be a contest in which participants donated money to play the game Guitar Hero II for X-Box, in hopes of winning an electric guitar donated by the Ithaca Guitar Works. The fundraiser, which was planned and promoted by WVBR 93.5, Cornell’s student -run, independent radio station, raised over $300 for Relay for Life.
“We knew it was a good way to raise a lot of money for Relay for Life,” said Jillian Shaughnessy ’08, promotions director for WVBR. “It’s an awesome game, and it gives people from Ithaca a chance to be rock stars.”
Matthew Leftwich ’07, outgoing general manager of WVBR, helped coordinate the partnership between the Relay’s steering committee and WVBR to organize fundraisers like the Guitar Hero challenge to help meet this year’s monetary goal.
“Relay for Life didn’t have a broadcast partner,” Leftwich said. “They’ve done great work in the past; they raised $194,000 last year, and we wanted to be there to help them take it a step further and get the word out even more.”
Kelly Davis ’07, publicity chair of the Relay for Life steering committee, is excited to have WVBR as a broadcast sponsor for Relay for Life.
“This is the first year we’ve had WVBR on board, and the Guitar Hero fundraiser is awesome,” Davis said.
The idea for the Guitar Hero Challenge came from Jordan Gremli ’08, WVBR programming director and incoming general manager, who is also a Guitar Hero enthusiast.
“I play Guitar Hero religiously, and a lot of my friends do too, so with this event I wanted to tap into the love for this game to raise money not only within the Cornell community, but within the Ithaca community too,” Gremli said.
Participants in the contest agreed. Jeff Catalano ’09 enjoyed this particular fund-raiser because he plays guitar and he is enthusiastic about the cause the money is going toward.
“We figured we could pool two of our greatest interests: guitar and raising money for charity,” Catalano said of himself and his friend who came out for the fundraiser. “Our house, Delta Tau Delta, has a team for Relay and we are excited to take part in the fundraising.”
Others, like Nicole Ford ’07 played for the opportunity to show off their guitar skills.
“It makes me feel like I can jam out, and I’m a huge music lover,” Ford said.
The Guitar Hero challenge was one of many fundraising events that have been going on in the past months to benefit Relay for Life, which was planned by both the Cornell and Ithaca College Relay for Life steering committees. Local businesses have donated funds, and student groups on campus have sponsored a variety of events, such as holding ice-cream socials, partnering with bars to offer drink specials and auctioning off dates.
With less than two days left before Relay for Life, the Kappa Delta team is the fundraising leader of the 120 campus groups involved, having raised over $13,000. Brianna Harris ’07 of Kappa Delta individually raised over $10,000 of that money.
Because of all the enthusiasm on campus, organizers of Relay for Life are optimistic about reaching this year’s goal of raising $215,000.
“We think we are going to hit the goal. We have a website up where we are collecting money, and we are right on track,” said Davis.
The Relay, which begins Saturday night at 7 p.m. and ends Sunday morning at 7 a.m., will also provide all-night entertainment, including Impact Dance Troupe, The Cornell Dazzlers, a capella groups, and other student organizations.
The Relay’s website also stated “By joining together as volunteers and donors, our efforts help the American Cancer Society strive toward a future where cancer doesn’t take the lives of our friends and family.”