Relay for Life raises $105,103

The University’s eight annual Relay for Life walkathon gathered over 1,500 students to support those affected by cancer, and as of this past weekend, the campaign raised $105,103, the largest amount in the University’s history according to school officials.

Overnight Friday to Saturday, several student organizations, faculty, volunteers, and university officials assembled in Carnesecca Arena for 12 hours and participated in various celebrations and activities that remembered those afflicted by cancer. Relay for Life is the University’s largest student-run fundraiser.
Logistics Chair John Marchi estimated the attendance was around 1,500 students. Students and organization were the main catalysts for this year’s historic success, he said.

“Without the support of our organizations we wouldn’t have raised a penny,” he said. “The students are the fuel for the event.”

This year’s historic proceeds according Mary Pelkowski, the Associate Dean of Student Engagement, trumps last year’s $81,500 total. The money will be donated to the American Cancer Society, the leading cancer research organization focusing on ways to find preventable measures of cancer for over 100 years according to their website.

Steve Lavin, the men’s basketball coach and selected speaker for the walkathon, is cancer-free after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. Lavin spoke about how the support from the vast amount of individuals in the arena served as an inspiration to those influenced by cancer.“Just your encouragement, your spirit and your example makes such a profound difference in not only the cancer survivors but those who come from families of cancer survivors or those who lost someone to the dreaded disease of cancer,” he said.

Following the speakers was the traditional opening luminary celebration. The crowd held glowing lights in the air in memory of those who died as a result of cancer and in honor of those currently battling the disease. Sophomore Nicole Zaremba, who lost an aunt as a result of cancer and another who survived the disease, said how this event displayed perseverance throughout society.

“This [event] serves as a reminder to never give up hope and to keep fighting regardless of what life throws at you,” she said.

After the ceremony the relay commenced beginning with a lap around Carnesecca from the cancer survivors present in the building – known as the survivor lap. That was before other organizations such as fraternities, sororities and clubs joined the relay. The diverse group of students’ motives for attending this year’s relay shared the common incentive to show support to individuals they personally knew who were and are affected by cancer.

“I knew a friend in high school who had leukemia and he fought it and he beat it,” Gina Curcio, a member of the Catholic Student Association, said. “I am here because I am relaying for the fighters.”