Relay for Life raises $71,000 against cancer

This past weekend, Kuhl gym hosted Geneseo's annual Relay for Life, an overnight event organized by the American Cancer Society devoted to raising awareness and funding to help defeat cancer.

By the end of the event, $70,854.91 was raised, though the total has risen to over $71,000 since then.

"I'm happy to see so many people participated and we're excited to have raised so much," said junior Marissa Evarts, Colleges Against Cancer Relay co-chair. "It was a lot of work. Relay is planned throughout the entire year, but it's worth it because you become so inspired and see so many people touched by the event."

"It's a wonderful, fun, emotional event, but in the end the main goal is to raise money," said senior Amanda Flannery, president of Colleges Against Cancer. "We would love to see a day when everyone raises $100. Imagine the funds we could raise for an amazing cause!"

Junior Bethan Maher, Relay chair, added, "I didn't sleep for two weeks leading up to the event. It's a matter of constantly checking up on things and filling in the gaps … but this year's Relay was wonderful."

Members of College Against Cancer said they were particularly happy with this year's surge in faculty participation. "We had the best staff and faculty turnout ever this year," said Flannery. "We are very thankful to those who took the time to come out on a Saturday night and I hope there will be a great deal of faculty and staff involvement in the future."

Every year, Relay for Life has three core motifs: celebrate, remember and fight back. These values are represented in three ceremonies, hosting two speakers each, which occur throughout the night.

The celebrate ceremony commenced the event with a "survivor lap" to celebrate those who won the battle with cancer. James McCauley Jr. from Camp Good Days opened the service emphasizing the importance of programs like Camp Good Days and Relay for Life in helping cancer patients get through difficulties and urged students to "continue the work after tonight." Geneseo sophomore and cancer survivor Amy Bradt addressed participants with remarks of hope and happiness.

"After going through something like I did," she said, "you realize how important life is and how to let the little things go and have fun."

A few hours into the event after sunset, luminaries were lit for the remember ceremony in memory of those who lost the battle and the struggle of survivors. This year's ceremony had a local focus, as two Geneseo students - Meghan Adams and Jacquie Hirsch - recently died from cancer. Both speakers, senior Jenna Sawtelle and Jacquie's brother T.J. Hirsch, urged that neither lost their fight, since they live on in memory and through the lives that they touched.

The Fight Back ceremony took place well into the Relay to reinvigorate those struggling to stay awake for the full 12 hours with the inspiration to challenge cancer.

Senior Jamie Scordino, a and senior Mae Lankes, bone marrow donors, spoke about the satisfaction they got from donating to a stranger and urged people to fight back by registering to donate with the National Bone Marrow Registry.

Each year also brings a different theme to Relay, this year's being multiculturalism. Presentations, including dance performances from Shakti and Bhangra, occurred throughout the night, celebrating the diversity among the festive global decorations as well as those who participated in the event.

Relay was widely regarded as a huge success by its organizers: "I love seeing people that do Relay just as a fun activity on the side [and] then as Relay gets closer and during the event, they become so hardcore about it," said Junior Lwam Tecleab. "[They] really see the impact they are making!"

Donations can still be made online at through Aug. 1. u

Missed this year's Relay for Life, or just want to get more involved? Head to and click on the "Local Resources and Information" link on the left to find out how you can make a difference this summer.