The seventh annual Relay for Life collected more than $79,000 to support cancer research, exceeding its goal of $75,000. This was the largest amount raised in the University’s history for the Relay event, according to Mary Pelkowski, associate dean of student engagement.
When The Torch went to print, the amount raised by the University had totaled $79,200. The proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society.
The associate director of Multicultural Affairs Rosa Yen, a survivor of colon cancer, said she was surprised by the generosity of the students who donated their money to the cause.
“It’s inspiring I think, given the current economic challenges right now, and [because] students don’t make any money, but they gave $20 or $25 anyway,” she said. “I feel so blessed and proud to be a member of the St. John’s community.”
Students, faculty members and other volunteers packed Carnesecca Arena the night of April 13 and stayed there until the next morning. The event ran a total of 12 hours from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
The Relay started with an opening ceremony, highlighted by a speech from guest speaker Caroline Fuchs, an associate professor and outreach librarian, who survived a bout with cancer and became cancer free last December.
“I am Caroline Fuchs and I am a cancer survivor,” Fuchs said to start her speech, resulting in a cheer from the crowd. Fuchs urged students to approach friends and family with cancer, because as she said “It’s the little things that get people through cancer.”
“Talk to your friends about cancer,” she said. “Often they want to talk about it but nobody approaches them.”
A luminary celebration was then held, where those present held lights above their heads in memory of those who have died.
People in the University who have survived cancer then participated in a survivor lap around the arena. John Marchi and Arielle Castillo, the master of ceremonies for the night, held a countdown and those present started to walk around the arena.
Students passed time by talking to each other while encircling the track and listening to the various types of music played throughout the night.
Multiple student groups attended the event, including sports teams, fraternities, sororities, clubs and organizations, each with their own reasons for partaking in the Relay.
“I came in memory of my grandma, who died from lung cancer,” said sophomore Kaela Landon. “I never got a chance to meet her.”
Various entertainment performances throughout the night, including a short comedy show in the Little Theater, turned the night from a night of sorrow into a celebration following the ACS motto of “remember, fight back and celebrate.”
“Cancer is a soft subject, so it’s better for it to be a party,” said senior Danielle Douglas, a student cancer survivor at the event.
The planning for next year’s Relay for Life has already begun according to Student Government president-elect Christian Williams. “It’s all about progression,” he said. Williams said he was at Relay for his grandmother who passed away from cancer.
He added, “What [this Relay] has done is nothing short of amazing. Relay for Life 2013, watch out we’ll be bigger than ever.”