Touro University students hold colorful Relay for Life event

Vallejo Times Herald
By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen
Times-Herald staff writer
Posted:   08/09/2013 01:00:24 AM PDT

Matthew Blaisdell said he envisioned Touro University's first Relay for Life event as a cross between Vallejo's Color Vibe Fun Run, a mixer and a track-and-field relay race. 

"I thought it would be a great way to get other students to know each other, and it's a great cause," said the 25-year-old Student Government Association VP of Community Outreach. 

Each of the 170 or so students who signed up to participate in Thursday's two-hour event on the lawn of Touro's Farrigut Inn, donated $5 to the American Cancer Society, said Blaisdell, a San Diego native. 

"We've raised more than $600," he said. 

The ACS donations and the event's signage were essentially the only resemblance this event had to a typical Relay for Life, he acknowledged. 

"Ordinarily, Relay for Life is a 24-hour event, with teams of people walking on a track through the night, and luminaria lit in honor of people who have struggled with cancer," Blaisdell said. "This is going to be an actual relay race, with batons, and we're going to throw colored powder on the runners, and get messy, just for fun."

Organizing what he said he thinks is an event customized to better fit Touro, Thursday's relay involved "a number of shorter, faster races where students... race on relay teams against one another." And not just regular running, but also skipping, running backwards, crab-walking, and "other fun ways to move around," he said. 

The Student Government Association donated sweets and refreshments for participants and prizes for race winners, Blaisdell said. 

Touro student Trista Fuchs of Kansas, 26, said she was there Thursday to meet other students and to give to a worthy cause. 

"We like to support our student organizations, and this is a good charity," she said. 

Kyle Ransom said he was there for similar reasons. 

"I want to get to know my fellow Touro students," the Walnut Creek native said. "I did a Relay for Life at UCLA once, and, obviously, this is a medical / pharmacy school, and this is a good location for something like this." 

That's how Blaisdell said he saw it, too.

"We are health professionals at this school, and, not that we have had a lot of experience with cancer, but we're learning about what cancer is and I wanted to do a charity that's related to who we are a little bit -- people who are trying to help treat cancer," he said.

Contact staff writer Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at (707) 553-6824 or rzrihen@timesheraldonline.com. Follow her on Twitter at Rachelvth.

A Touro University student runs through a cloud of colored dust during the school's Relay for Life event Thursday, which incorporated races between the different educational schools and their students instead of a traditional event. Additionally, multicolored powders were used to make the runs more colorful. (Mike Jory/Times-Herald)
A Touro University student runs through a cloud of colored dust during the school's Relay for Life event Thursday, which incorporated races between the different educational schools and their students instead of a traditional event. Additionally, multicolored powders were used to make the runs more colorful. (Mike Jory/Times-Herald)

Chris Decker, left, a second-year student in Touro University's College of Osteopathic Medicine, gets a thorough colorful dusting by first-year medicine student Nick Pigg during a race in the school's Relay for Life event Thursday evening. (Mike Jory/Times-Herald)
Chris Decker, left, a second-year student in Touro University's College of Osteopathic Medicine, gets a thorough colorful dusting by first-year medicine student Nick Pigg during a race in the school's Relay for Life event Thursday evening. (Mike Jory/Times-Herald)