Relay for Life breaks regional fundraising record

The 2012 Relay for Life at Geneseo raised at least $74,866.89, the highest amount ever raised in the region. The fundraising goal, set by Geneseo’s chapter of Colleges Against Cancer was $77,777 dollars. The total revenue from the event is still being calculated.

Over 1,200 people attended the Relay for Life event, which took place at the Wilson Ice Arena in the Merritt Athletic Center from the evening of Saturday April 14 to the morning of Sunday April 15.

“I am very pleased with the turnout this year,” said junior and CAC Relay for Life Chair Jessica Shatzel. “I am overwhelmed by the number of people in attendance, their enthusiasm, and their generosity.”

“This Relay for Life event is the best that Geneseo has ever had,” said junior and CAC Relay for Life Co-Chair Kayla Gurbacki. “It has raised a lot of awareness, brought people together and has created a really strong sense of community on campus.”

The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life was founded in 1985 in support of those battling cancer. Since that time, thousands of organizations and communities around the world have hosted the event. CAC members brought Relay for Life to Geneseo in April 2007.

“Relay for Life has provided an opportunity for the campus to stand up against a disease that has affected everyone in some way,” said Shatzel. “It has allowed everyone to stand together behind a cause to make a difference.”

“Relay for Life is a good support network and positive environment for those survivors of cancer and those still fighting,” said freshman Kaitlyn Lambert.

The 2012 Relay for Life, a 12-hour-long event, included activities between the Kuhl Gymnasium and the Wilson Ice Area within the Merritt Athletic Center.

Activities within the gym included pick-up volleyball and basketball tournaments, an Inflatable Experience surfboarding option and demonstrations from the Geneseo Cheerleading team.

Sales tables for local businesses, foundations, school clubs and organizations sold goods and services around the ice arena, with profits to be donated to the American Cancer Society.

Throughout the event, local bands and musical artists performed in the ice arena. These performances were interspersed with demonstrations from Bhangra, Knightline, G-Steppas and the kickboxing and Zumba classes.

Following the opening ceremony, senior president of CAC Sarah Cantatore, a skin cancer survivor, spoke to attendees about her battle, saying that every participant was one of her caregivers. The traditional Survivors’ Lap followed, when cancer survivors in the crowd walked around the arena with their caregivers to mark their victory.

Later in the evening, the Luminiara Ceremony remembered those who have been touched by cancer and honored the memory of those who were lost to the disease.

Louise Napoleone, who cofounded Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation, Inc. after losing her son in 2007, was the guest speaker for the ceremony. She spoke about perseverance and honoring those who have been lost.

“You will get more tired with every step you take tonight, but you have to keep walking,” said Napoleone. “That is what people with cancer do … They keep walking, and you have to too – for them. You have to walk for those who cannot.”

Napoleone’s speech was followed by a slide show of loved ones who had died and a candlelit silent lap around the arena. At this point, many were asked to answer the question of whom they were relaying for.