Event planned to raise money and awareness for cancer

St. John’s will host its third annual Relay for Life event on April 4 and 5 in Carnessecca Arena. The purpose of the event, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, is to raise public cancer awareness and to collect donations in the hope of eventually finding a cure.

Last year, the event raised $53,000 and had 80 teams made up of 850 members of the St. John’s community participate. Christina Zaccarelli, co-Relay for Life Student Chairperson, says this year’s goal for contributions is $60,000.

As of March 31, Relay for Life’s official Web site reports this year’s Queens campus event has 925 people divided among 91 teams confirmed to take part.
The webpage also stated that St. John’s has collected over $19,000 in contributions thus far.

Zaccarelli believes the fundraiser’s subject matter plays a big part in getting people to participate.

“I think the reason why there is increased involvement is because this is a topic that touches a lot of people and they really do care about the cause,” she said. “It’s also a really fun event and word gets around, so that also brings in more people.”

According to Dr. Kathryn Hutchinson, executive director of student wellness, the event begins on April 4 at 6 p.m. with an opening ceremony featuring two speeches from students whose lives have been directly affected by cancer.

There will also be a tribute to Dr. John W. Dobbins, a former Associate Dean for the Tobin School of Business, who recently died from cancer, as well as live entertainment provided by the Mike Horn Band, a group that has performed at Relay for Life events on other college campuses in honor of a friend who passed away from cancer.

The central event of Relay for Life is the fundraising walk, which occurs after the opening ceremony and continues until 6 a.m. the following morning. During this activity, at least one member of each participating team has to walk laps.

The event goes on all night to symbolize that cancer does not sleep.

Before the walk begins, candles inside bags, called luminarias, are lit and placed around the walking track.

The luminarias are supposed to be a reminder of cancer victims or individuals whose lives have been impacted by the deadly disease.

After the event comes to a close, all the funds raised during the event will be used to help support the American Cancer Society in research, advocacy, and further raising cancer awareness.

Overall, Vincy Chacko, co-Relay for Life student chairperson, feels Relay for Life is an activity [that encompasses students from all walks of life].

“This event helps bring people together in cancer awareness mainly because it’s not focused on a specific type of cancer,” she explained.

“This way, everyone who has been affected by cancer in general can help our cause and it doesn’t limit the people who can get involved.”