Archive for May 16th, 2011

May 16, 2011

Relay For Life: PR and teamwork at its finest

For the past two years, I volunteered as the Team Development Co-Chair for the University of Oregon’s Relay For Life Committee. Relay For Life is a fundraising event that raises money for the American Cancer Society. This past weekend, nearly 800 students celebrated raising more than $40,000 during UO Relay For Life 2011 ‘s 15-hour event. Teams form months before the event and fundraise by sending letters and emails to family and friends and hosting events like bake sales and sports tournaments. The day of Relay For Life is a celebration of all the money that participants have fundraised for cancer research and care, plus a day of recognition and remembrance of all who have been touched by cancer. See the Oregon Daily Emerald’s article to know more details about this year’s event.

UO Relay balloon sign and sponsor banners

My role as Team Development Co-Chair involved recruiting and retaining participants, and I was also responsible for training and motivating team captains. From “pitching” the opportunity to campus groups about getting involved, to helping teams brainstorm fundraising ideas, my job involved establishing and maintaining relationships — can you say PR?Β 

My work as Team Development Co-Chair wasn’t in a vacuum. It involved TEAMWORK to the max. I had a co-chair, as well as three sub-committee members working with me. Additionally, we were part of a 30-person committee that included other chair members who were each responsible for specific components of the event planning and execution. For a successful year, it required in-person meetings with our team development crew, and with the full committee, plus continuous communication via email and phone with committee members and participants.

The most important take-aways I’ve gained from my experience on the Relay For Life committee and in my role as Team Development Co-Chair are the following:

Timely communication is paramount to happy participants and fellow committee members.

When the work seems overbearing, remember WHY you are doing it — whatever that reason may be.

Additionally, take time away from the work every now and then, or at least do something social with your co-workers instead of work-related. Good relations with your co-workers leads to more fun doing work together!

Positivity is productive. Nay-sayers, complainers and grumpy-gills don’t get anything of value done. Attitude is everything.

Conflicts and challenges will arise. These are best dealt with immediately and maturely. Vent up, and work together, not against, to find solutions.

We’re human, we’re busy, we make mistakes. Forgive and move on. Be understanding and supportive. But also, keep your co-workers accountable for their responsibilities.

Be reliable and authentic. Do what you say you’ll do. Lead by example. No one will follow if you’re not exemplifying what you expect others to do.

Recognize your time to follow and your time to lead. This may depend on the mixture of personalities and talents of your team members and what responsibility you’ve taken, and it will vary based on the time and availability of others to take charge or not.

Be open to new ideas. Your brain only knows so much. That’s why you work with other people on a team.

Be thankful and show appreciation. When a co-worker or participant does something well or lends a hand, thank him or her! Those two little words go a LONG way.

A lot of us cringe at the thought of another group project. But the reality is that we need to work in teams to accomplish big goals. It may be time consuming and frustrating at times, but it can be oh-so-rewarding in the end. Yes, each individual is powerful with one heart, one mind and two hands, but we can do so much more when we combine our energies and assets. And, who knows, maybe you’ll make new friends along the way.

UO Relay For Life Committee 2011 at the end of our successful event. (I’m in bright pink on the right!)