The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Community gathers for ‘Relay for Life’

Over 1000 St. John’s students, faculty
members, and members of the community
came together on April 13 to
raise $45,000 in the second annual Relay
for Life.

“Relay for Life is now not only
national, but global,” said Keith Hudson
of Media Relations for the American
Cancer Society (ACS). “There is a Relay
for Life in over 48 communities in the
United States. Over 275 universities
have a Relay for Life and it is still growing.”

He added, “The money that is raised
at St. John’s goes back to the Queens
community. The American Cancer
Society fights cancer through research,
education, advocacy, and services for
patients and families.”

The event began at 6 p.m. with a
blessing by Father James Maher and
continued with addresses delivered by
David Golub, Regional Vice President of
the American Cancer Society, Lou
Carnesseca, former basketball coach at
St. John’s, and junior Matt Tosoni.

Afterward, there was a Luminaria
candle lighting ceremony in honor of
those who have suffered from cancer,
where the lights in the arena were
dimmed so that the luminaries could
light up the court.

For the rest of the night, students and
faculty, were broken up into groups of 8-
15, and walked laps, while also participating
in trivia contests, midnight madness,
three legged races, karaoke contests,
freeze dances and a host of other
activities.

Dr. Kathryn Hutchinson, Executive
Director of St. John’s Student Wellness
and Student Affairs, coordinated the
team that put together the event at St.
John’s. “I am relatively new at St. John’s
University, and I was extremely surprised
by the support from the St John’s
community,” she said. “We were hoping
for 300 participants when we began, but
more than 600 signed up. Students have
been creative with ideas.

She added, “We are pleased with the
faculty and administration for the luminaries
they purchased in honor and memory
of loved ones touched by cancer. I
am impressed because our university is
continually tapped for service and we
live up to it.”

Abby Furness, student co-chair of the
event, said, “We are incredibly proud of
St. John’s for hosting this. It took a lot of
effort from many aspects of the university
and I feel much supported as a student
in this community.”

Student participants believed that
they were making a difference, as well.
“I wanted to participate in a good
cause,” sophomore Jumboi Agwu said.
“It makes you feel good knowing that
you are contributing to a cause and having
fun at the same time.”

Senior Monique Gbenah added,
“This is my second year participating. It
means a lot to me because my [team]
captain survived cancer last year.”

Overall, the ACS estimates that it
will raise $400 million through its Relay
for Life events across the country.
Relay for Life first began in 1985
with Dr. Gordon Clatt of Tacoma,
Washington. “He walked and ran all day
and night to raise awareness and funds to
fight cancer in his community,”
explained Hudson. “He raised $27,000
by himself and thus began Relay for
Life.”

In 2006, ACS projected that over one
million new cancer cases would be diagnosed
in the United States, including
over 88,000 in New York alone. In
Queens, it was estimated that over 180
individuals would be diagnosed with
cancer each week, while almost 70
would die.

We knew it was important to come to
St. John’s because of the respect the university
has in the Queens community,”
Hudson said. “Tonight is proof of how
much students and faculty care about
fighting cancer right here in their community.”

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