Relay raises $51,141.73 for cancer awareness, research


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Photo by Edwin Gano |

Relay for Life had 639 participants gather at the Sonny Werblin Recreation Center on Friday.


After 14 hours of standing and walking around a track, participants at last weekend’s Relay for Life did not sit down.

Rather, they placed glow sticks in a paper lantern to commemorate those who have died in the battle against cancer.

The 14th annual Relay For Life at Rutgers included 58 teams and 639 participants who gathered together to raise funds for the American Cancer Society, a nonprofit organization that advocates for cancer awareness and research.

The marathon that took place at the Sonny Werblin Recreation Center on Busch campus raised about $51,141.73 during Friday evening and Saturday morning, according to the Relay for Life website.

Photo: Edwin Gano

At the luminaria ceremony, participants at Friday’s Relay for Life lit glow sticks in a paper lantern to remember those who have been affected by cancer.

Relay For Life has raised nearly $5 billion to combat cancer, according to the website. It has involved 20 countries and more than 5,200 communities.

Gianna Delizza, the Rutgers Colleges Against Cancer relay event chair, said the event encourages the participation of the entire Rutgers community, including families affected by cancer who are willing to support the cause. The loss of her father prompted her to join Rutgers Colleges Against Cancer.

Delizza, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said people who have witnessed a loved one slowly succumbing to cancer would be inspired to participate as well.

“The event will bring back memories of those we have lost,” she said.

Delizza hopes to reach their fundraising goal of $80,000 by August.

Roshni Patel, president of the Rutgers CAC, described the symbolic associations with each stage of the event. The main theme of the event is remembering the tragic truth of a cancer patient’s experience.

“Cancer never sleeps, so neither shall we,” said Patel, a School of Nursing senior.

According to the Relay For Life website, each team must have at least one member walking on the track all the time to embody the event’s theme.

After the opening ceremony, the participants performed a survivor lap to celebrate victory over cancer.

They follow the survivor lap with a caregiver lap to honor those who offered their care to cancer patients, and performed the lantern lighting, called a luminaria ceremony, and a “fight back” ceremony to convey remembrance and the need for action.

“The luminaria ceremony is a touching moment which allows people to personalize their own luminaria to remember those they have lost and also those who are still suffering from cancer,” Patel said.  

Alongside the marathon, the event included various activities and family games to celebrate the memory of lost loved ones and the cancer survivors.

Chris Jones, member of the Rutgers University Seeing Eye Puppy Raising Club, said his club has been recognized as the first-place fundraising team for five years. Jones has witnessed many cancer-related deaths that have influenced his involvement.  

Jones, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior, said his favorite part of the event is a hypnotist performance that invokes people’s senses, arousing a positive vibe in the atmosphere. Also, the moment of silence during the luminaria ceremony brings painful memories to the surface. He was considering buying his third luminaria.

Molly O’Connor, a member of RUSEPRC, expressed her feelings of excitement and determination to walk on the track until the end in honor of her mother, who passed away from cancer five years ago.

“My mother fought until her last moment, so I will walk until the end,” O’Connor said.

Wyatt Gould, a member of the Phi Gamma Delta, said his team donated $2,000, determined to finance advanced cancer research.

Gould, a School of Engineering first-year student, said it was time to destroy cancer forever.

Laura Figueroa, a member of the team from the Ernest A. Lynton North Tower on Livingston campus, said her mother, who has been affected by breast cancer, is a survivor who walked on the track during last year’s event. Her mother’s involvement inspired her to continue a legacy.

“The survivor lap reminds me of when my mother also walked on that track,” said Figueroa, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences sophomore.


Sabrina Restivo

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