This week Her Campus had the opportunity to sit down with Olivia Kim, a junior from New Jersey majoring in marketing. Olivia serves as the marketing director for Relay for Life at Michigan.
Her Campus: What is Relay for Life?
Olivia Kim: Relay for Life is a fundraising organization for the American Cancer Society. Volunteers across more than 5,200 communities and 27 countries give their time and effort to support Relay, driven by their common motivation to take a stand against cancer. Relay for Life events bring community members together to remember loved ones lost, honor cancer survivors, and raise money to help ACS fund groundbreaking research, patient care services, education initiatives, and more!
HC: How does the Michigan chapter contribute to the national Relay for Life network?
OK: Relay for Life at the University of Michigan, also known as MRelay, is the second largest collegiate Relay for Life event in the world. With more than 1,500 participants and 100 teams, it’s also one of the largest organizations on campus. Last year we raised $350,000, and this year we’re aiming for $400,000! The money that we fundraise benefits patients and researchers in the local area, so it’s really great to see everyone at Michigan come together to support the community. We also have volunteers who interact directly with cancer patients through giving them rides to treatment or visiting Hope Lodge – an ACS-funded place for cancer patients and their caregivers to stay when undergoing treatment away from home.
HC: What made you want to join this organization?
OK: We like to start off all of our committee meetings with one person sharing their Why I Relay. I Relay for my mom, who survived her breast cancer diagnosis ten years ago after several tough months of treatment. My mom has always been my greatest role model and source of encouragement as I navigate through the process of making “life’s big decisions” and learning about what I truly value. I Relay for a cancer-free world in which no girl has to grow up without her mom’s guidance and support.
HC: What is your role as marketing director?
OK: As the Director of Marketing, I work with my amazing co-director Maria to oversee MRelay’s social media and online presence, as well as its general outreach efforts in the Michigan community. Basically, my job is to make sure everyone on campus knows about the awesome campaigns, events, and initiatives that the committee works so hard to plan and execute throughout the year. Right now, we’re doing a big marketing push for Grow Blue, our November fundraising campaign. During No-Shave November, we’re encouraging our participants to grow out their beards or wear our #GrowBlue wristbands while raising money for ACS in support of men’s health.
HC: What is your favorite memory of your time in Relay for Life?
OK: My favorite MRelay memory would probably be seeing everything come together for the Be Purple raffle at our main event last April. Be Purple is MRelay’s incentive program that awards raffle tickets based on the amount of money that a participant fundraises. After working for weeks with other committee members to acquire dozens of prize donations – including Michigan gear, gift certificates to Ann Arbor restaurants, free yoga/spin classes, and a Harbaugh-signed football – it was really gratifying to see the outcome of my efforts. Sadly, I didn’t win any prizes, but I’m hoping my luck will turn this year.
HC: What kind of events do you hold throughout the year?
OK: On our committee, we have an entire team within our event execution department that focuses on planning special events throughout the year. Our annual Run for Relay 5K took place a few weeks ago on October 1st in the Arb. We also have an annual benefit concert during winter semester and are looking into some new and exciting ideas for the coming year. Every April, we culminate our year of fundraising at our annual event on Palmer Field with fun activities, team fundraisers, the Be Purple raffle, guest speakers, and more. This year’s event will be on Saturday, April 7th from 10 AM to midnight, and we hope to see everyone there!
HC: How can our members get involved or learn more?
OK: Michigan students and other members of the Michigan community can get involved by signing up as a participant on mrelay.org. You can do this as an individual fundraiser, or find a group of friends or campus organization to form a fundraising team. For those who are interested in getting more involved, keep an eye out for our events and initiatives throughout the year by following us on social media (shameless plug @mrelay). Showing interest and involvement can make a participant a great candidate for next year’s MRelay Planning Committee!
HC: What is on your Michigan bucket list?
OK: Anyone who has ever met me knows that I love food. Trying every restaurant on Main Street is something that I’ve been working toward since freshman year, but I may have to come back as an alum when I will hopefully have a little more money to spend.
Images courtesy of Olivia King