My name is Tia Farese and I am a Margaritaville University Campus Brand Manager at Virginia Tech. I am currently writing this from the airport, heading to Margaritaville Beach House Key West! Margaritaville University has given me countless opportunities personally and professionally over the last three years, one being the ability to build a large network on campus and in my community by partnering with several clubs and nonprofits. One of my favorite and most successful partnerships has been working with Relay for Life at Virginia Tech, the nation’s largest collegiate Relay for Life.
As I learned more about the goals of Margaritaville University, I saw Relay for Life as the perfect opportunity to host events while contributing to a larger cause that resonates with almost everyone. I composed an email to the directors of Virginia Tech’s Relay for Life explaining what Margaritaville University is and the ideas I had for their fundraising and recruiting efforts. Before I knew it, I was meeting with the directors and planning joint events with their team.
The first event I hosted in conjunction with Relay for Life and MargU was a cookout at an outdoor space on campus to recruit participants for Relay teams. Everyone was so excited to incorporate Margaritaville University into the fun by serving cheeseburgers (in paradise), playing Jimmy Buffett music, giving away merchandise, and playing cornhole. That same semester, I was able to host a cornhole and volleyball tournament with participants donating to Relay to play and MargU providing merchandise for participants and winners.
Due to the pandemic, 2020-2021 Relay for Life events were canceled, but fundraising did not stop! I pivoted my approach utilizing my partnerships with both MargU and Relay for Life to host social media giveaways, a live virtual bingo, and a virtual trivia night with Margaritaville merchandise prizes and all donations going directly to fundraising efforts. These turned out to be very successful ways to both support Relay for Life and spread the Margaritaville state of mind with people from all over.
Finally, Relay for Life at Virginia Tech was able to resume in-person events this spring! Our team fundraised all year leading up to the main event in April where we had a campsite for a 12-hour event. Attendees donated to spin a wheel for MargU merchandise that also entered them into a raffle to win a cornhole board. It was very rewarding to interact with survivors and caregivers, seeing firsthand who all of our hard work is supporting. I cannot wait to do it all again next year!
Over my two years working with and fundraising for Relay for Life, I have helped the Margaritaville University team raise approximately $3,000 for the cause! I am so grateful for Margaritaville providing me with so many resources to succeed in these efforts and help Relay for Life get one step closer to a cure for cancer.