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Relay returns after more than a year-long hiatus
Relay for Life returned to Quinnipiac on Sept. 11 after a hiatus during the 2014-2015 academic year.
The overnight fundraising walk took place on the Mount Carmel campus from Friday at 6 p.m. until Saturday at 6 a.m. Participants remained outside on the Quad until 10 p.m., when Relay moved indoors to the Athletic Center.
Approximately 600 participants raised more than $36,000 for the American Cancer Society this year, according to event co-chair Abbie O’Neill.
Although this amount is lower than the last Relay for Life at QU, which hosted 900 teams and raised $70,000, the executive board is happy that they took a year off to accommodate changes to the event.
“To try and balance out the year we’ve moved Relay to the fall,” said O’Neill, who has participated in Relay for Life since first grade. “There are a lot of philanthropic events in the spring, and we don’t feel that Relay should be competing against them – we don’t want to take away from someone else’s philanthropy.”
In addition to the date change, Relay for Life participants also experienced a location change. In the past, the event has been held at the TD Bank Sports Center, but this year it took place on the Quad and Athletic Center.
“We made the decision to bring it down to main campus for a few reasons,” O’Neill said. “One, we wanted to make it more accessible to students, especially freshmen and sophomores who don’t necessarily have a car. Two, we wanted to try an outside relay–a lot of community relays are outside and we wanted to bring that to the college atmosphere. The only way to do that is to have [Relay] in the fall semester because you don’t really want to do it in the snow.”
Many students, including freshman Jaycee Schwarz, enjoyed attending the event outdoors. Schwarz was a volunteer at this year’s Relay and helped implement the event at her high school last June.
“It’s really different from the one I did in high school and I love it,” Schwarz said. “My whole family has had breast cancer–my grandma and all her six sisters, so [Relay] is something I feel like I should do to give back to them. I’m definitely planning on doing it throughout college.”
The only negative feedback that O’Neill received was last year from members of the class of 2015, who were unhappy about missing their last undergraduate Relay. However, many of them formed alumni teams and participated in this year’s event.
In addition to the constant walking around a track to symbolize that “cancer never sleeps,” students could participate in a variety of activities: performances by Dance Company and improv group The Right Amount of Silence, games, Zumba, a photo booth, Oreo sales by QU After Dark, arts and crafts and periodic ceremonies throughout the night.
Sophomore Alex Clarke’s favorite part of the event was the Luminaria ceremony, when participants decorated paper bags to remember loved ones lost to cancer and honor those who continue to fight.
“My mom had cancer, so it was nice to be here and see how many people have been affected by cancer – not just someone in my family,” Clarke said. “This is my first time doing Relay for Life and I think it’s a great experience. It’s really nice to be involved and have a cool night with a lot of people who have the same experiences and the same effects from cancer.”
Her opinion is shared by senior Allie Iannicelli, who attended the event with members of the Honors Program to support junior Nathan Orsini. Orsini was diagnosed with brain cancer last November and was the speaker at the opening ceremony.
“Our team was named after him – we’re Nathan’s Neuro-Ninjas – and I’m happy we were able to come and support him,” Iannicelli said. “It gave Relay a real meaning this year; not that it hasn’t in past years, because we all know someone who’s had cancer, but it was really great to be able to support someone as they’re currently fighting.”
Overall, the event was “pretty successful,” according to O’Neill. She says that executive board applications will be open soon and encourages any interested students to apply. The board will be selected by mid-October and will begin fundraising in the spring for the ninth annual Relay for Life.
“I’m really proud of the way the community came together tonight to support this,” O’Neill said. “I know it means a lot to me and the board to see everyone walking the track. We had probably half to three-quarters of the track filled during the Luminaria ceremony, which is huge…to see that support was great and I’m really proud.”