The fourth annual Relay for Life brought together the St. John’s community through events supporting cancer research and education. This year’s event was held on Friday, April 3 in Taffner Field House.150 teams walked for the cause in this year’s event, and the energy was palpable despite the smaller venue. For the past three years the event has been held in Carnesseca Arena, but this year the event was moved to Taffner Field House. Because of everyone’s contributions, the University raised approximately $50,000.
“At first I was annoyed by the smaller space, but as the night went on there was so much else going on that I didn’t even think about it,” said junior Vivian Dominquez.
Relay for Life kicked off at 6 p.m. with a touching opening ceremony featuring speeches by Jack Kaiser, Reverend Harrington, and student speaker Annie Guthenberg. Unique to this year’s opening ceremony was the inclusion of purple glow sticks.
“This year, the committee added glow sticks to the ceremony,” said Pedro Gomez, co-chair of the Student Affairs Committee. “Participants in attendance lit them as statements about how cancer affects them were read out loud ranging from having cancer, to being a caretaker, to striving for a cure.”
Following the welcoming ceremony, survivors walked the first lap around while hundreds of candles were lit in remembrance of those who have lost their lives and those who continue in their struggle.
The opening ceremony served as a start for the night’s festivities, which included several games and activities. Music and food were provided by several sponsors, including Student Government, Inc. and Campus Ministry.
Games included musical chairs, a three-legged race, and the amazing race. The big prize of the night was the Snuggie, which was given out to first place winners. Every inch of Taffner Field House was covered with sleeping bags and blankets as each team set up their camping ground for the night.
While numbers dwindled after midnight, several participants stayed strong taking short naps as their team members walked on. “There were a few things that we did to raise awareness about the event and increase student participation. We sent out personalized invitations and flyers to all offices and departments on campus, and had “Paint the Campus Purple” week from March 16-20,” said Gomez.
“During that week we set up luminaria and purple balloons around the perimeter of the great lawn to promote the event and get students to form teams.”
The event boasted a record turnout of 1,500 people and the event is only expected to grow in size in the coming years.
“We have been very proud of the progress made with Relay for Life over the past four years,” said Gomez.
“The first two years were very chaotic, but we seem to have the event itself down to a science and students have a really awesome time.”