Alma Gears Up for Annual Relay for Life Event
Estonia senior Martin Kuustik participated in Relay for Life for the first time as a freshman. At $250, he set his fund-raising goal higher than what the American Cancer Society recommends.
Each year since, he has doubled the previous year’s goal, making this year’s fund-raising goal $2,000. It’s an admirable aspiration for a team, never mind a single person.
“I’ve been told that it’s a big goal, but I have a lot of determination,” says the business administration major. “I don’t like the word ‘quit,’ and I feel like if I’m not pushing myself then it’s not enough of a challenge.”
Fraternities and sororities participate in Relay for Life.
Alma College’s annual Relay for Life event takes place March 20 and 21 at the Stone Recreation Center. More than 200 students, faculty and staff are expected to participate in the American Cancer Society’s main fund-raising event.
In addition to raising money, Relay for Life raises awareness about cancer by celebrating the lives of survivors and remembering those who lost their lives to the disease.
As the leader of the Sigma Chi team, Kuustik makes regular trips to many of the buildings on campus to talk to faculty and staff about Relay for Life. While it’s an easy task for Kuustik, who enjoys this interaction, he admits fund raising can be difficult.
“When I come back to visit after graduation, I won’t know the students, but I’ll be able to say ‘hi’ to the faculty and staff,” he says. “I feel like people appreciate my efforts, even if they can’t donate.”
Participants walk laps in the Stone Recreation Center.
Most of his donations come in during the Relay for Life event, he says, where supporters pledge to donate a certain amount for every lap that he completes on the indoor track in the Stone Recreation Center.
During last year’s event, he walked for 17 hours before having to stop because of health issues. He estimates he walked 42 miles during this time, and he’s prepared to take on the challenge again this year.
Kuustik is so serious about backing up his donations with physical efforts that when walking, if he’s unsure if he clicked the counter that marks his laps, he won’t click it, he says. He’d rather walk that extra lap in the name of honesty.
Chih-Ping Chen, associate professor of English, donated 50 cents for every lap Kuustik completed last year—all 300 of them. As an international faculty member and advisor, she is happy to support him.
“As an international student, Martin has worked hard not only to introduce his nation and culture to the Alma community but also to share our cause of helping people fight cancer,” she says. “I am delighted to see him connect communities and hearts.”
Like so many, both Chen and Kuustik have personal reasons for supporting Relay for Life, as their families have been affected by cancer.
In his four years at Alma College, Kuustik’s fund-raising efforts for the fight against cancer will total at least $3,750. Though he hopes another student will carry on his tradition, he understands how meaningful his own contributions have been.
“It’s really cool to think about how much money I have raised,” he says. “It’s rewarding to be able to help the cause. I wouldn’t have done this unless I was passionate about it.”
Posted: Mon, March 8th, 2010 at 11:05AM