Mr. Relay

Participants of the Mr. Relay Pageant dance on stage in the Stephen C. O'Connell Center while waiting for the results of the fundraising contest. The men dressed in drag raised over $800 for Relay for Life.

Kelly Clarkson’s “What Doesn’t Kill You” boomed from the speakers at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center Friday as 20 cancer survivors took the first lap of the 2012 UF Relay for Life.

About 2,100 participants raised roughly $127,000 by the end of the 18-hour relay, exceeding the $110,000 goal, said Allison Barkett, the 2012 event chair. Last year’s 1,500 participants raised about $112,000.

“Any money we can raise to donate is a success, but to be ahead of our goal is unbelievably gratifying,” said Barkett, who is a 22-year-old advertising senior.

Lenni Jo Yarchin raised more than $3,000 on her own, making her the top individual fundraiser. The top three fundraising teams were Alpha Kappa Psi with about $6,000, Theatre Strike Force with about $7,000 and Alpha Epsilon Delta with about $8,000.

“Everyone worked so hard all year, and it is incredibly rewarding to be able to announce to them that their efforts paid off in such an enormous way,” Barkett said.

The theme for this year’s event was “Lights! Camera! Cure!”.

The 81 teams, made up of Baywatch babes, “Bieber Fever” victims and Toy Story characters, filled the O’Connell Center to capacity.

“We are definitely pushing it. We were able to reorganize the site so that there are 10 more campsites,” Barkett said. She added that there are plans to host the 2013 relay at Flavet Field.

Gator Student Living, Progress Energy, Melitta Coffee and United Skates of America sponsored the relay.

The money raised is donated to the American Cancer Society. Donations are used to fund scholarships for students who have or had cancer or who have cared for a patient.

The money also goes to projects such as R.O.C.K. camp, where children with cancer can experience a summer camp, as well as education, advocacy and research efforts.

Public relations sophomore Annie Uzar, who is a member of the Team Development Committee, said the money raised “fits the needs of the community.”

She is 20 years old and living with cancer.

“This one relay can help fund that extra lab that finds the cure in 50 years because they got that extra equipment,” Uzar said.