Laps and Luminaria: Andover Students Organize Relay for Life Fundraiser

From left to right, Max Huang ’24, President Alvin Liu ’24, Vice-President Jacob Kaiser ’24, and Mattia Molinari ’24

Andover raised over $12,000 for Relay for Life, a student-led fundraising event that took place in the Snyder Center on Saturday. The Andover community was invited to walk laps, play games, and listen to performances to raise awareness and funds for cancer research. 

Relay for Life is a nation-wide initiative organized by the American Cancer Society, with teams and individuals coming together to fundraise by walking or running laps. As President of the Andover chapter of Relay for Life, Alvin Liu ’23 noted how Saturday’s event differed from the typical relay-style organization of the fundraiser.

“Relay [for Life], in general, is supposed to be more focused on the walking aspect. So while that didn’t necessarily happen at our Relay for Life event, I still think that the community aspect was there. Usually the laps are because you have a sponsor who is then also providing money for every lap you walk. But for us, the focus was to fundraising first, and then have the event just be a community aspect,” said Liu. 

Other than walking laps around the Snyder Center track, attendees could participate in Spikeball, cornhole, basketball, face-painting, and luminaria bag decorating. Emily Wu ’25, one of around 250 attendees, highlighted the luminaria ceremony that concluded the event, where all participants took a silent lap around the track to commemorate those who have faced, or are currently facing, cancer. 

“[The event] was really touching… It was heartwarming. I think especially towards the end, the walk itself was just very emotional. And just like, personally, when I’m thinking of my friends, or my family who have gone through cancer, then yeah, I’m proud of everyone for going through what they’ve been through,” said Wu. 

Vice-President Jacob Kaiser ’24 shared a similar sentiment to Wu, emphasizing the emotional nature of the luminaria ceremony. Luminary bags were lined on the inside of the track, lighting up the space as participants walked the silent lap in the dark. 

“Up until that point, the event had kind of been more celebratory,  more gathering about a cause and celebrating, having fun. But at that point. It was very sentimental. And I think that kind of read for a lot of people,” said Kaiser.

According to Liu, preparation for Relay for Life started last spring. Liu’s team of seven — Liu, Kaiser, Minh-Khue Doba ’24, Audrey Powers ’24, Tara Wei ’25, Marcella Hernandez ’25, and Magnus Julin ’25 — worked to advertise through social media, fundraise in and outside of school, and invite guest performers over the course of the year. 

“We’re not a formal club, so this isn’t like, ‘Oh, you have to be chosen to be on the board.’  It’s like if you want to help out, that’s great, we’ll involve you in some way or another… The process mainly was just making sure that there were things to do during the event and then planning individual fundraising events before that,” said Liu.

According to Kaiser, the long-term goal is to make Relay for Life a consistent, annual occurrence at Andover.

Kaiser said, “We’re kind of interested in looking at expanding our organizational board to see if there are a group of people who are interested in helping set this up next year. And eventually once we all graduate, kind of carry on that responsibility.”