Eleventh annual Relay For Life breaks records

This year’s Relay For Life surpassed expectations, raising over $140,000 to find a cure

Eleventh annual Relay For Life brings together St. John’s community to find a cure for cancer.

Elijah Angulo, Contributing Writer

Starting on Friday night and lasting through Saturday morning, 1,835 St John’s students rallied in the Carnesecca arena for the annual Relay For Life fundraising event.

With the help of 115 organizations on campus, including various fraternities and sororities who stayed the entire duration of the event, the University managed to raise $140,341.76 in donations to aid the American Cancer Society in the battle against this disease.

Hundreds of participants circled the arena in support of their loved ones who suffered or are currently struggling with cancer and to demonstrate their resilience against the disease.

The fundraiser was packed with fantastic dance performances, memorials and ceremonies to celebrate survivors. Caregivers of those who are fighting cancer were also recognized.

The rally began with speeches from inspiring guest speakers, followed by the Lunares Ceremony, in which hundreds of decorated paper bags, each dedicated to loved ones who were lost, were lit with purple glow sticks, illuminating the entire arena.

Despite the emotional dedications and memorials, the event proved to be extremely positive as everyone joined together and experienced a universal hope to find a cure.

St. John’s senior Gabriel Camara shared his connection to the event by speaking about his grandmother who is a cancer survivor. Camara’s grandmother lives in Brazil, and he sends her flowers every year in August on National Cancer Day.    

“It’s very nice how many people come out and support… It’s a fantastic night,” said Camara.

Some of the greek organizations that participated include Lambda Theta Phi, Delta Phi Epsilon, Alpha Sigma Alpha, Pi Delta Psi, Alpha Phi Omega, Sigma Delta Psi, among others.   

During one portion of the event, students gathered on stage to have their hair cut and distributed to hospitals to make wigs for those who lost hair from chemotherapy.

Music played and merchandise was sold from decorated stands, showcasing the spirit of St John’s.

Also involved in the fundraiser was the Love Your Melon organization, a student led apparel brand that donates a large amount of its proceeds to the American Cancer Society.

It was the first time the organization participated in Relay For Life and visited St. John’s. All of the members are freshmen except for its founder, campus crew leader and junior, Amy Vandetta.

When asked why Love Your Melon chose to participate in this year’s Relay For Life, Olivia Hervey, one of the members of Love Your Melon, thought that it was important to get people aware and get their organization to grow.

“I chose to join Love Your Melon because the cause was so great. I loved how much effort and contribution is made to help young children overcome cancer and other diseases,” Hervey said.

In addition to the money donated to the American Cancer Society, Love Your Melon has reserved over 45,000 hats for cancer patients. When you purchase a hat from their website, another hat is given to a child who struggles with the disease.

Among many of the participants was Rebecca Affenita, a junior in Saint John the Baptist Diocesan High School, who is battling Thyroid Cancer. The past five years have been especially difficult for her. She recently lost her grandfather to cancer, and her uncle currently has the disease as well.

Although she received her diagnosis in October, she has been attending Relay For Life since she was seven years old. Despite the immense adversities her and her family have faced, Affenita strives to overcome these challenges and refuses to give up hope.

“Keep your head up because it gets better” she advises others who are suffering from the disease.

Her aunt mentioned that the performances from the St. John’s Official Dance Team, Step Your Game Up step team, LIVE Dance Crew and ReVolution Dance Team were dedicated to her.

Relay For Life helps bring people together with the goal of finding a cure for cancer. This is the eleventh year that St John’s has held the fundraiser, with the hope of continuing what has become tradition for many more years.

To register for Relay For Life, or make a donation, visit http://relay.acsevents.org.