Colleges Against Cancer hosts Relay for Life kick-off event

Jene Thomas – General Assignment Reporter 

There are many ways to give back to the community. Many students at Southern Connecticut State University just prefer breaking a sweat in relay races in order to raise money for cancer awareness.

Each year, Southern’s chapter of Colleges Against Cancer partners with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network to host the Relay for Life where individuals or groups take turns running around a track or path.

CAC hosted the kickoff event on Jan. 21 in the Adanti Student Center ballroom to spread the word and allow people the chance to register for the event early from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Music, food and art & crafts were provided.

“We want people to raise money so that it can go back into the New Haven community because New Haven has Yale-New Haven hospital and Yale’s children’s hospital which is right here so it’s going right back into the community,” said Stephanie Barnett, former VP of CAC. “We don’t do anything with [the money], it all goes towards a really great cause.”

Those who went to the kick off event were able to register for a lowered fee of $5, compared to the standard fee of $10. Cash, credit cards and checks payable to the ACS CAN are accepted. Individuals or groups could sign up without a maximum amount.

Inside the ballroom, attendees were greeted with music and multiple tables for enjoyment. First walking in, people saw 20 circular tables, topped with balloons, candy and registration cards.

To the left of the entrance were two rectangular tables where Natalie Cullen of ACS CAN offered people the chance to join the global organization.

“What we do is we work on legislation and public policies to help eliminate cancer so I’m here to tell people about it and get people involved,” she said.

Those who signed up to join at the table were offered a cupcake. On the next table had colored pencils and white paper bags spread across the table. The section allowed participants the opportunity to create and design luminaria.

At the Relay for Life events, there is the Luminaria Ceremony where people honor those who have been affected by cancer. They serve as lanterns, each fitting a candle inside them and display a positive message drawn on the front. During the ceremony, people walk a lap with them in silence in order to breathe and find healing, according to the informational paper laid across the table.

On the opposite side of the room was the food and drink table. Pizza, salad, Chinese food and sodas were available. The table was never empty, of supplies or of people.

Across from that was the “Flashback” table. Spread along the table was the #FB2FB banner, which stood for “flashback to fight back,” hosted by Shanley McClave and Deanna Brightman, two members of CAC.

Here, arts & crafts from the 90s such as Mickey Mouse coloring books, Lisa Frank supplies, and jewelry string and Iron beads were displayed to make designs for individuals or teams.

The majority of the people leading volunteering had lost some family member due to cancer.

“Cancer has always been in my family,” McClave said.

“My great-uncle had cancer and he died a couple of years ago,” Brightman said.

Barnett and Cullen also said they lost loved ones and it was because of their loss that got them involved with Relay for Life. Though many people had lost someone to cancer, there were people who signed up for other reasons.

“Our fraternity really believe in community service,” said Paul Barlow of Beta Mu Sigma. “We wanted to get together and give back to something like cancer awareness.”

The CAC organization and ACS CAN invite the Southern community to the Relay For Life event on April 17 at 5 p.m. in the Moore Field House.

This will be the first time the event will be held indoors.


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