116 teams walk tall at Relay
Against a backdrop of beautiful weather to complement the unofficial “May Weekend,” scores of Quinnipiac students forwent drinking to walk firmly against a leading cause of death in humans worldwide.
On Friday, Quinnipiac held its third annual Relay for Life event to raise money for the American Cancer Society (ACS). The event was held in the Recreation Center, with 116 teams totaling 965 participants. Throughout the night, at least one person from each team walked around an artificial track for up to 14 hours to symbolize what cancer patients endure during their treatment. Students could purchase and decorate bags with names of those who have or had cancer for the luminaria ceremony, where the lights were turned off and the bags lining the track were lit up with glowsticks. Aside from team donations, there were many other creative ways to raise money including mocktails, limbo, cookie decorating, and other events, including a survivors’ banquet. This year’s theme was dedicated to birthdays.
This year, Quinnipiac raised over $80,000 for the fight against cancer. A large novelty check was presented by Relay for Life Co-Chair Jennifer Scarlett to the ACS during the opening ceremonies.
Vice President and Dean of Students Manuel Carreiro was thrilled by the success of the Quinnipiac effort.
“This exemplifies what Quinnipiac University is about, but more than anything else, our students ‘commitment to community,” he said.
During the opening ceremonies, Quinnipiac student survivors spoke of their battles against cancer. Among them was sophomore Briana Galeazzi, who was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 12 years old. She underwent 12 months of intense chemotherapy, and had to undergo two-and-a-half subsequent years of post-chemo treatment.
“Fighting cancer is a group effort, not merely an individual one,” Galeazzi said. “One cannot overlook the critical role support from friends and family plays in battling this disease. Relay for Life epitomizes this spirit.”
Relay for Life was planned nearly a year in advance, and required much commitment and dedication from students. However, the personal aspect was clearly a motivating factor for the participants and planners.
“I got involved in Relay for Life as not only a continuation of my love for service, but also because it is an event that benefits a cause that is close to my heart,” said Event Co-Chair Ashley Chacon-Baker said.
Although Chacon-Baker is not a cancer survivor herself, she and her family were personally affected by the disease.
“Though people ‘relay’ for several different reasons, my grandmother’s story touches me because it is an inspiration to me and others,” she said. “The good news is that I have the opportunity to do something for them, and that is to relay. All of the co-chairs, committee members, captains, participants, and donors all make Relay for Life the wonderful event that it is. The amount of work and dedication that goes in to organizing the event is huge, but the passion behind the work is immeasurable.”
Chacon-Baker was not alone in being affected by cancer through another family member’s affliction.
“Nearly everybody I know has been personally affected by cancer in some way,” sophomore Trevor Berlo said.
Berlo, whose grandparents both died of cancer, participated on the team “16 Candles,” a play on the 1984 Molly Ringwald film, in keeping with the birthday theme of this year’s event.
“It is because of our common experience as students and people, along with the QU community’s dedication to serving others, that Relay for Life has helped to bring so many students together to bring about an event which not only fosters great socialization, but service to our fellow humans,” Berlo said.
Greek life was prominent at Relay for Life, with some organizations fielding numerous teams. Alpha Delta Pi (ADPi) dominated six teams. Sophomore Kim Dundon, ADPi’s Relay for Life chair, first participated in Relay for Life during her freshman year, when her whole floor in her dorm took part. Her highly positive experience, along with that of others, helped motivate ADPi to spread the cause to its members.
“Knowing my aunt’s successful fight against cancer, this mass participation touches my heart,” Dundon said.
Phi Sigma Sigma had eight teams participating in the event.
“Given the widespread and lethal reach of cancer, the least the community can do is to walk in solidarity against it,” said sophomore Phi Sigma Sigma team captain Jordana Centauro said. “It is ridiculous that our advanced society, which has cured polio, mumps, and rubella, along with sending men to the moon, cannot cure this disease.”
For junior Jillian Bassi, a member of the PT Club team, the event held special meaning not only to her heart, but to her future career. As an aspiring physical therapist, she may one day help breast cancer patients ward off lymphodemia, which afflicts those fighting the disease.
“Relay is important because it shows cancer patients and survivors that people will support them during this difficult time,” Bassi said. “As someone who could be directly involved with cancer, it is touching to see such large support, especially from young people, who generally tend to be apathetic.”
“The massive turnout shows that any illusions of Bobcats being apathetic couldn’t be further from the truth,” said freshman Ashish Silwal, member of the Delta Tau Delta team.
This year’s turnout brought Quinnipiac’s grand donation total to more than $300,000 since it began holding the event in 2008.
Kristen Alldedge works for the ACS and helps organize Relay for Life at numerous communities and campuses, and was moved by the Quinnipiac effort.
“Quinnipiac’s Relay for Life was mind-blowing, not simply because of how many students showed up, but because of how many stayed, coupled with their enthusiasm and involvement,” Alldedge said. “I was particularly moved by the student survivors.”