Southern hosts Relay for Life
Jene Thomas – General Assignment Reporter
Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back.
Tears began to fall down the cheeks of spectators during the opening ceremony of Relay for Life, as the track cleared and cancer survivors were invited to walk a lap holding a banner from the American Cancer Society with the words “Celebrate,” “Remember” and “Fight Back” to Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again” and the crowd’s cheers.
“Relay is all about community coming together to manage to fight advanced cancer,” said Hayley Foster, community manager for the American Cancer Society. “Your hard work and fundraising efforts are making a tremendous impact right here in the community.”
For the first time since the event came to Southern Connecticut State University, Relay for Life was hosted inside in the Moore Fieldhouse on April 17, starting from 5 p.m. and going into April 18 until 4 a.m. The event was open to all students of Southern, as well as the outside community. People could either sign up as individuals or a groups.
Sports teams like the field hockey team and the women’s soccer team were present, as well as a groups of two and three. Delta Phi Epsilon had their entire sorority, compiled of 55 active sisters present.
“I’m here to support DPhiE and the fight against cancer,” said Cady Gingras, junior psychology major and active sister of DPhiE. “Raising money for cancer research is really important for us.”
Gingras said her sorority, along with other Greek organizations always try to come out and participate in the relay. Beta Mu Sigma, Omega Zeta Pi and other Greeks were also present at the event.
Many groups had camps set up around the gymnasium. Chairs, blankets and refreshments were heavily stocked as the event proceeded through the night. Shanley McClave of Southern’s chapter of College Against Cancer said the length of the event mimics the battle with cancer.
“The event itself is supposed to reenact a patient’s battle throughout cancer, being from the state of diagnosis through the darkness of treatment and then into the light of remission or your afterlife,” she said.
McClave was seated at the entranceway with gifts for cancer survivors. T-shirts with “survivor” written on them and color-coded leis were spread across the table. “The Lei is Symbolic of the Hope you’ve carried through your own personal journey,” as read on the sign at the table. A yellow lei meant less than a year of surviving, followed by pink for one to five year, blue for six to 10, white for 11-15 and red for over 16 years. Both the lei and t-shirt were free of charge for them.
Other activities came along with the small fee. Upon entrance to the gymnasium, a table was laid out with prizes, ranging from water bottles and sweatshirts to a flat screen television. Participants could purchase one of two raffle tickets to win the different prizes. A $1 raffle ticket could potentially win someone a Southern sweatshirt or a blue crew water bottle, while the $2 ticket gave someone the chance to win the television or mini camera.
The American Marketing Association offered $1 dessert plate for participants. People could also purchase luminaria, which are white paper bags that are colored and drawn on to show a message of support for someone who is battling cancer, a survivor or someone that passed away.
A majority of the proceeds, however, came from groups registering and tally up laps. According to Brianna Eisensmith, a senior education major and frequent relay participant, groups could request a certain amount of money for every lap they complete to be donated.
As of only 6:40 p.m., Tayler Keefe, president of Colleges Against Cancer announced that the event had raised $14,000 due to all of the fundraising and participation.
“While each of us has a unique reason for being here,” Foster said, “we all have something very much in common: we want to make a difference and fight against cancer.”
Photo Credit: Derek Torrellas