Over 1000 St. John’s students, facultymembers, and members of the communitycame together on April 13 toraise $45,000 in the second annual Relayfor Life.
“Relay for Life is now not onlynational, but global,” said Keith Hudsonof Media Relations for the AmericanCancer Society (ACS). “There is a Relayfor Life in over 48 communities in theUnited States. Over 275 universitieshave a Relay for Life and it is still growing.”
He added, “The money that is raisedat St. John’s goes back to the Queenscommunity. The American CancerSociety fights cancer through research,education, advocacy, and services forpatients and families.”
The event began at 6 p.m. with ablessing by Father James Maher andcontinued with addresses delivered byDavid Golub, Regional Vice President ofthe American Cancer Society, LouCarnesseca, former basketball coach atSt. John’s, and junior Matt Tosoni.
Afterward, there was a Luminariacandle lighting ceremony in honor ofthose who have suffered from cancer,where the lights in the arena weredimmed so that the luminaries couldlight up the court.
For the rest of the night, students andfaculty, were broken up into groups of 8-15, and walked laps, while also participatingin trivia contests, midnight madness,three legged races, karaoke contests,freeze dances and a host of otheractivities.
Dr. Kathryn Hutchinson, ExecutiveDirector of St. John’s Student Wellnessand Student Affairs, coordinated theteam that put together the event at St.John’s. “I am relatively new at St. John’sUniversity, and I was extremely surprisedby the support from the St John’scommunity,” she said. “We were hopingfor 300 participants when we began, butmore than 600 signed up. Students havebeen creative with ideas.
She added, “We are pleased with thefaculty and administration for the luminariesthey purchased in honor and memoryof loved ones touched by cancer. Iam impressed because our university iscontinually tapped for service and welive up to it.”
Abby Furness, student co-chair of theevent, said, “We are incredibly proud ofSt. John’s for hosting this. It took a lot ofeffort from many aspects of the universityand I feel much supported as a studentin this community.”
Student participants believed thatthey were making a difference, as well.”I wanted to participate in a goodcause,” sophomore Jumboi Agwu said.”It makes you feel good knowing thatyou are contributing to a cause and havingfun at the same time.”
Senior Monique Gbenah added,”This is my second year participating. Itmeans a lot to me because my [team]captain survived cancer last year.”
Overall, the ACS estimates that itwill raise $400 million through its Relayfor Life events across the country.Relay for Life first began in 1985with Dr. Gordon Clatt of Tacoma,Washington. “He walked and ran all dayand night to raise awareness and funds tofight cancer in his community,”explained Hudson. “He raised $27,000by himself and thus began Relay forLife.”
In 2006, ACS projected that over onemillion new cancer cases would be diagnosedin the United States, includingover 88,000 in New York alone. InQueens, it was estimated that over 180individuals would be diagnosed withcancer each week, while almost 70would die.
We knew it was important to come toSt. John’s because of the respect the universityhas in the Queens community,”Hudson said. “Tonight is proof of howmuch students and faculty care aboutfighting cancer right here in their community.”