Armed with blankets, pillows and lots of hope, more than 300 participants stayed up all night during Siena College’s annual Relay For Life.
Relay For Life is a 12-hour overnight cancer-fighting celebration held in more than 5,100 communities around the globe. Participants come together to celebrate cancer survivors and accomplishments in cancer research and education. Relay for Life is also a powerful way for participants to remember loved ones who have lost their lives to the disease.
All proceeds raised during Relay for Life help the American Cancer Society fight cancer through education, advocacy, research and patient and family services. Siena College Relay For Life supporter and 11-year breast cancer survivor, Marjorie Ward delivered the opening remarks to begin the student-led event. “I continue to show my support for Siena because of the incredible enthusiasm, dedication and energy of the students that fuel this event. As a cancer survivor, and knowing that many people have been affected, Relay For Life is a good place to put my energy,” said Ward.
Recognizing that the American Cancer Society identifies itself as the official sponsor of birthdays, Siena’s event implemented a birthday party theme that featured gifts, balloons and many delicious cupcakes to decorate and enjoy. Participants were engaged throughout the night with food, music, raffles and lots of entertainment, including performances by talented students, "pie-your-professor" and the popular chicken wing-eating contest.
“Relay is that one night that everyone takes the time to come out and raise money for cancer,” said Kelsey Anderson ’13. “Even though it’s a 12-hour event, I’m never bored. I enjoy all the performances and contests throughout the night and I’m glad I can be a part of the event every year.”
The emotional luminaria ceremony that pays tribute to those affected by cancer was a highlight of the evening. Luminaria bags lined the track and were lit to represent every person who has lost the battle and those who are still fighting cancer. All participants walk a lap together to show their support and solidarity. “This ceremony is hands-down my favorite part of Relay,” said Megan DeRudder ’12. “Hearing words about hope and seeing all the participants come together for a common cause is truly inspiring.”
Fundraising efforts throughout the year and the generous support of the Siena community and beyond helped the Relay for Life Club raise more than $36,000 for the American Cancer Society.
"It is such a great feeling to be able to raise that amount of money. We have received an overwhelming amount of support this year and I only expect bigger and better things for Siena’s Relay in the future,” said Chairperson Shawn Reap ’12.
Relay For Life has become an increasingly popular event at Siena College. Under the direction of the club’s current executive board, the amount of money raised over the years has increased by nearly 60%, a statistic that speaks well for the organization’s leadership and commitment to the cause. Although many of the executive board members are graduating and will be missed, the event will be left in good hands and will continue to join the fight for a world with more birthdays and less cancer.
Photo Credit: Emily Merritt '12 and Shawn Reap '12