April 23, 2019 | 61° F

U. Relay for Life celebrates 13th year

Photo by Marielle Sumergido |

Participants walked around the track at the Livingston Recreation Center between Friday night and Saturday morning to raise money for cancer research. The annual relay includes an opening ceremony, a survivor’s lap, the Luminaria ceremony and the “fight back” ceremony as well as numerous other activities to ensure that everyone involved stayed awake throughout the night.

Cancer does not sleep, and for 14 hours neither did the participants of Relay for Life, a marathon to raise money for cancer research.

The event celebrated its 13th year at the University, lasting from Friday night to early Saturday at the Livingston Recreation Center, said Kristina Mischke, the president of Colleges Against Cancer.

Sean Moonen and Harrisson Quijote, both brothers of the University’s Kappa Sigma fraternity chapter, walked for family members with cancer.

“My cousin was diagnosed with cancer this year and she beat it, so I will be walking for her,” said Moonen, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, prior to the event.

Quijote, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences sophomore, said he walked the relay for the first time and was excited to see what it was all about.

“This is our major event for the semester. We are here with all our brothers to do a day of service and raise money for the fight against cancer,” Quijote said.

Quijote and his team set a goal to raise $2,000, he said. Each brother donated $50, either out of pocket or through his own fundraising.

Quijote and his team surpassed their goal, said team member and fraternity brother Kunal Kumar, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.

Each year Relay for Life has a different theme. This year, camouflage t-shirts and decorations reflected the theme of cancer research, said Sarah Shaw, a board member of CAC.

Mischke, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said the organization raised more than $82,000 so far, but has until August to raise more funds.

The goal for this year is $95,000, said Shaw, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.

Shaw said this was her third year participating in the event, but her first year on CAC’s board.

The turnout was smaller than it has been, she said, but more people stayed throughout the night, and the energy level stayed up and lasted the entire time.

According to the Relay for Life website, the event is a global phenomenon with over 4 million participants in 20 different countries raising money to fight cancer.

The event symbolizes the notion that cancer never sleeps and participants make teams, raise money and walk laps from 5 p.m. until 7 a.m. the next day, according to the website.

What makes a Relay for Life event special is its opening ceremony, followed by a survivor’s lap, the Luminaria ceremony and the “fight back” ceremony, Shaw said.

Shaw said her favorite part is the Luminaria ceremony, which takes place after dark. Bags full of glow sticks are placed around the track in honor of those fighting cancer.

“The bags, filled with all different colored glow sticks in honor, in memory and in support [are] very powerful and pretty,” she said.

The event featured activities throughout the night, including a performance by a hypnotist.

Christopher Castiglia, a brother of the Kappa Sigma fraternity, said last year he was hypnotized and acted like a dog.

“I went around barking and crawling on all fours and letting people pet my stomach, it was pretty funny,” said Castiglia, a Rutgers Business School sophomore.

For the event’s Miss Relay contest, male contestants competed in a beauty pageant, Shaw said. Boys dressed up like girls, put on makeup and heels and tried to impress judges with their dance moves and personalities.

During the event, 36 people cut their hair for donation to Cuts for a Cure, a record for the event, Shaw said.

Coordinating the event was a challenge, Mischke said. It is usually held at the Werblin Gym on Busch campus, which is a bigger venue than the Livingston Recreation Center.

“We had to adapt and make it work, and also the rain played a factor because some things were planned for outside, and we had to move it all indoors,” Shaw said.

To get the word out, Relay for Life organizers used social media such as Twitter and Facebook and posted fliers, Shaw said.

When the organizers announced how much money the participants raised this year around 6 a.m., people were still in the crowd and awake, maintaining a positive energy, she said.

“The people who participate all have huge hearts and are there for the right reasons,” she said.

Maggie Monaghan

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Targum.