When was the last time you saw 1,200 people walk around in a circle for twelve hours? Well, perhaps you would see it more often if every time they did, they raised over $122,000 for the American Cancer Society. From 7 p.m. Saturday night to 7 a.m. Sunday morning, students from Cornell and Ithaca College circled the Ramin room in the second most successful college Relay for Life in the country.
Relay for Life is the signature event of the American Cancer Society, comprised of sponsored teams taking turns walking or running in laps. Each team tries to keep at least one member on the track at all times. Relay for Life takes place in communities across the country. The Tompkins County chapter of the ACS has held Relay events before, but were limited to local residents as the programs were held in July. This year, Simi Katragadda ’07, chair of the Relay for Life steering committee, extended the event to Cornell students.
“Starting Relay for Life at Cornell has been a phenomenal experience that I cannot express in words. I am extremely honored to have worked with such an amazing committee and greatly appreciate the participation of each person. They made this event a tremendous success. I was astonished by the dedication of Cornell, with people staying energized and upbeat from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.!” Kataragadda said.
Teams ranged from Cornell Football to Linguistics majors and even a team of law students whose team name was, “The Ambulance Chasers.” Each team was challenged to come in festive gear and to decorate their campsite. Students were enthusiastic about their themes, with some setting up Western campsites complete with bales of hay. Others came in costume, such as the Cornell Gymnasts, dressed up as super heroes.
“The support from the Cornell and Ithaca college communities was overwhelming,” said Lori Gurien, ’05, co-chair of logistics committee.
Relay events begin with a survivors lap, in which cancer survivors are invited to make the first lap around the track. The survivors lap is followed by a ceremonial lap in which all participants circle the track. Participants also purchased luminaria (candles in bags, glow sticks) to commemorate the death of a cancer victim, or to support someone currently fighting the disease.
Throughout the night there were performances by Base Productions, Sabor Latino, Pandora, the Chordials, Last Call, Spirko, Cam Spies and Jake Hart. Events taking place during the Relay included a “Beiroot” tournament, a root beer-drinking tournament; a pie eating contest; a Singled Out game show; Relay Idol, in which participants sang a song for a panel of judges; alligator wrestling, where blindfolded students tried to deflate inflatable alligators; and a Texas Hold ‘Em tournament. There were also charicaturists and massage therapists for participants to enjoy during the Relay. Food provided by local vendors was available in the Ramin Room as well, including subs, chips, cookies, pizza, coffee, tea, fruit, bagels and cream cheese.
“This was the most fun, memorable and moving experience I have ever had. I can’t wait for Relay again next year,” said Stephanie Abrams, ’06, co-chair of the Relay for Life food committee.
The top three individual fundraisers were Brian O’Reilly, student at Ithaca College, with $2,752, Meredith Odato ’08 with $2,495 and Peter Yongvanich ’07, $2,095. The top two teams were PK’s Posse with $9,120 and The Ambulance Chasers with $4,263. The top three “themed” teams — the winner’s theme will be the theme for next year’s relay — were the team of DEA majors, with a theme of “Countdown to a Cure,” the Alpha “Phi-nomenons” with a Cornellopolis Superman theme and the Enginerd’s Castle.
Students were proud of their participation.
“I have never been so proud to call myself a part of such an enormous effort to fight a disease that has caused so much pain in the world today. I am so happy to have been involved with the rest of Cornell in taking yet another huge step in our battle against cancer,” said Jessica Feldstein ’05
Archived article by Erica Fink
Sun News Editor