Evan Richelson is a junior and current FTHS Relay for Life executive board member. He was awarded Club Student of the Month for his consistent efforts towards Relay for Life and supporting the American Cancer Society through the event. Relay has raised over $125,000, and it’s the culmination of the hours of dedication towards the cause from people like Evan. He sat down with the Patriot Press to talk about his leadership, what to expect at this year’s Relay for Life, and more.
Hi, Evan! Congrats on winning Club Student of the Month!
– Thanks so much!
How did you feel when you randomly heard your voice over the loudspeaker this morning?
– A little surprised but very happy.
So, Relay [for Life] is coming up and Mr. Leahy has recognized you for how instrumental you’ve been to the event. What would you say your responsibilities are when planning Relay?
– I was put in charge of social media at the beginning of this year, making it crucial to ensure that I’m in the know in order to know what to post. I’ve been behind lots of the initiatives that we have mainly on our Instagram, like our team country selections, Member Mondays, and other nitty gritty details for posts.
For anyone who doesn’t know what Relay for Life is, what is the event and what is it supporting?
– It’s an overnight event filled with competitions, activities, raffles, and ceremonies to commemorate survivors and people who have lost their battle to cancer. Relay for Life is the biggest fundraiser run through the American Cancer Society, so that’s where all of the money raised goes. The executive board sees none of the money; all proceeds go towards ACS.
Cool! I know I’m part of a team as well, but why should others get involved in FTHS’ Relay for Life event?
– I think having the ability to join alone is a great reason. There are people who need the resources and support during their journey with cancer, so by getting involved, it’s a big way to help. It’s a great cause and a really fun event. My favorite part is always seeing everyone there — the survivors especially. Getting to cheer them on during their lap [around the field] and them knowing that everyone clapping is there to support them is really moving and rewarding. A very special experience for sure.
Definitely. Going along with that, is there any particular reason why you joined Relay for Life freshman year and are on the executive board today?
– Not necessarily. I was looking to get involved with clubs my freshman year and I fell into Relay and what it stood for. I was a team co-captain freshman year, got involved with the board as soon as I could, and it’s been like that ever since.
Right, and I know I’m excited for the event. People may know that the event got pushed a week because of the air quality and out of precaution for the survivors, since the event is held outside on the football field. What is there to look forward to this Friday?
– There’s definitely lots to look forward to, like events and activities. There is one super cool thing that’s happening during the opening ceremony that I’m not allowed to say. But if you hear about it Saturday morning and are upset you weren’t there… I told you so. The ceremonies are pretty cool too, so if you have FOMO, be there.
Or be square.
– For real.
Going back to the executive board, is there anything about the board and team that allowed Relay to be so successful in planning and fundraising?
– I think we definitely picked the right people for our leadership team. There’s a lot of us, relative to other clubs, but we were still able to be selective yet efficient. Relay is large-scale, so our 14-person Township team seems small in comparison to what our task is. But it’s special to have a group of people work their hardest to make the night possible. From sponsorships and recruitment to planning different parts of the night and raising money, everything gets done. Really proud of how everything has happened so far. We were able to learn from last year’s Relay and what wasn’t as smooth and use that knowledge to make this year even better.
– Even a week out from the scheduled date, we are already around $60,000 above our grand total last year. Which is, like, crazy.
Way more than crazy.
– Agreed. It’s just that everyone works so hard and it’s going to pay off on Friday.
What have you learned about yourself over the past two years on the leadership side of Relay?
– Hard work does pay off. And also to think big. Be ambitious because it can happen with hard work. I don’t run the social media alone, but coming up with content on a basically weekly basis takes a lot of time to plan and make sure information gets out. For our Member Mondays, we were scared no one would even care to submit fellow teammates, but then everyone pleasantly surprised us with there being constant submissions highlighting people super involved in their own teams. It was never a question of if we’d have anyone to post, but rather who should we pick for the week’s post.
Do you have any shout-outs to people who helped Relay happen this year?
– Definitely shout out to the Colts Neck students who are getting involved with our Relay this year. They’ve definitely been an asset to our event’s success in recruiting, fundraising tons, and helping us expand our event. Our top two individual fundraisers are both from Colts Neck, so the increased school representation has been great to see. I’m looking forward to possibly more in-person planning meetings with them going into next year.
Are there any final words you want to leave to the the groups involved in making Relay a success?
– I would say thank you to the team captains, who have created their own individual community fundraisers to bring up their team total. It’s more than we’ve ever seen. Other similar Relay events are obviously doing great work, but what sets our night apart is how there are so many different teams raising money as groups. It shows the strength of the community support towards the ACS, so it’s really special to see. Over 20 people have more than $1,000 raised individually, showing how passionate our people are. I think it’s great how we have so many people involved at different levels, working together towards the same goal.
Evan, thank you so much for sitting down with me! What should our readers do this Friday?
– Come to Relay! June 16th-17th, FTHS football field. Registration opens at 6, opening at 7. Come for a great time!
You really knew all of that off the top of your head.
– Ya know, be there or be square.
Here’s what Mr. Leahy, Relay for Life’s Advisor, had to say about Evan:
“Evan does whatever is asked of him as a means of making the Relay for Life club and event grow into the success it has. This year, with Evan as part of the leadership group, FTHS was able to raise over $100,000. Evan was a quintessential part of planning the events for the Relay for Life event itself and its success was certainly thanks to his hard work and dedication.”
Logan Feldman, a senior here at FTHS was named our May/June Student of the Month. Nominated by Mrs. LaPlaga, Logan was awarded student of the month in recognition of her leadership, dedication and initiative with planning this year’s Dance FTK. Thanks to Logan, this year’s Dance FTK was record breaking and had raised over $22,000 for the kids! Congratulations to Logan and good luck to her as she advances beyond high school!
Here’s a look at my exclusive interview with Logan:
– Good Morning.
So, how would you describe your initial response to hearing your name on the announcements?
– I would say that I was very surprised and I felt honored that I was awarded student of the month because I feel like I’ve worked very hard. It was definitely like all my hard work paid off .
Why do you believe that you were nominated and chosen for this award?
– I think that throughout my time at Dance FTK, I put a lot of work into it – like the planning and the execution of it. This year was its best one yet due to how we raised the most money we ever had before. So I think that all the hard work definitely paid off for that.
What are some of your personal responsibilities as a member of Dance FTK? Do you have a specific leadership role?
– My role is the executive director. I do this alongside my brother [Grant] who is a sophomore here. As I am leaving this year, he’s going to take on the role since he’s going to have to be the leader by himself next year. Originally, I had gotten involved in Dance FTK because of my older sister. She started this when she was at Township and then I took it on with her. Now my brother will keep the legacy of Dance FTK continuing for both of us!
Besides your commitment to Dance FTK, what other activities are you involved in here at FTHS and beyond?
– I’ve been involved in BOTC, student government, field hockey in my underclassman years, and I am in project Lundy. There’s also a variety of other clubs that I’m also involved in that I’m also very passionate about here at Township.
It’s so great to hear about your dedication and commitment to both inside and outside of school! To continue, what would you say is the overall motive that made you join?
– Since I was younger, I’ve always learned the importance of giving back. I’ve always been involved in fundraising throughout my entire life because my parents are very involved themselves. Once I got to high school, I knew that I would obviously want to still continue doing something where I would be fun raising money, and this was definitely the biggest thing for me to get involved in, especially after I saw all that my sister had done.
Has being a part of Dance FTK shaped you or given you new skills of any sort?
– I feel like I gained most of my leadership skills from Dance FTK because I would run the event once it actually started. But besides that, behind the scenes, I was doing so much planning and trying to get different donations. So overall, there was so much going on behind the scenes that nobody really got to see. I put a lot of hard work into it and I felt like it definitely added onto my character as well as who I am as a leader.
What advice would you give to a new student entering the building later this year?
– The best advice I can give is to get involved. I can’t even stress that enough! I got involved in so much when I was a freshman and I’ve loved every single second that I was at Township. I can’t believe that I’m going to be leaving ,so the best thing that you should do is just get involved because the time really flies by fast. Make the most of it.
To conclude, is there anything you would like to add or say to your fellow students and staff?
– Once again just make the most of your time here because I really think that high school so far has been some of the best 4 years of my life. I’m so excited to go off to college, but definitely keep making the most of your time – it will fly by!
Here’s what Ms. LaPlaga, Dance FTK’s faculty advisor, had to say about Logan:
Logan carried the torch for Dance FTK, an event started by her sister, and brought it to new heights each year. This year, FTHS raised over $22,000 for the Embrace Kids Foundation with Logan leading the way. Logan’s selflessness is always on display and she works tirelessly to ensure that Dance FTK is a successful event each year.