2,220 people circled Barton Hall from 7 p.m. Saturday night to 7 a.m. yesterday morning at Cornell’s second annual Relay for Life. The event raised over $178,200 for the American Cancer Society.
Throughout the event, sponsored teams must have at least one member walking on the track at all times. The event lasts all night to symbolize the fact that cancer never sleeps.
Cancer survivors kicked off the event with an emotional victory lap around the track.
“Relay for Life is a celebration of cancer survivors, so starting with the survivors lap really sets the tone for the entire event. I never fail to tear up,” said Simi Katragadda ’06 chairperson for the Relay for Life steering committee.
Participants enjoyed various forms of entertainment and activities, including performances by Cayuga’s Waiters, the Class Notes and Pandora Dance Troupe. To pass the time, students also listened to music, played Cranium and other board games and participated in activities like a hula-hoop contest, a swing dance workshop, a tug of war and a Twister tournament.
Head to Toe Salon also gave free haircuts to participants offering to donate their hair to Locks of Love, an organization that makes wigs for cancer victims undergoing chemotherapy.
The Luminaria Ceremony, which honors cancer victims and those currently battling the disease, began at 10 p.m. Participants purchased and decorated the luminaries in honor or in memory of a loved one and walked around the track in silence to remember those people.
Katragadda, who founded Cornell Against Cancer, the group that organized the Relay, said that the level of participation and the amount of support at this year’s event amazed her. Both student and community groups were more than willing to donate food, entertainment and time, she said.
“The Relay really develops a sense of community and an emotional connection,” Katragadda said. “Its like one big party, but with a meaningful cause.”
Relay for Life participants praised the event’s ability to mix seriousness and fun.
Larissa Shulman ’08, who was the captain for her sorority’s team, said she was proud to participate in an event that “had some sort of significance.”
“I chose to walk because someone close to me was affected by cancer,” she said. “It was great to see different aspects of Cornell’s community come together in support of something really important.”
Participant Brynna Lipson ’09 agreed, saying, “With all the activities going on, the night went by really quickly. It was nice to be able to hang out with friends while supporting a good cause.”
The top fundraising team at Cornell’s Relay for Life was made up of residents of Court and Bauer Halls, who raised over $9,700.
The first Relay for Life took place in 1986 in Tacoma, WA. Interest in the relay has grown rapidly, and now Relay for Life is held in all 50 states and around the world.
All the money raised through the Relay for Life will benefit American Cancer Society for cancer research, education, advocacy and patient service programs.