Thousands of Cornell and Ithaca College students pulled all-nighters on Saturday for a perhaps more deserving cause than an unwritten paper or next-day exam.
The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life of Cornell and Ithaca College was held in Barton Hall this past weekend to raise money and awareness for all types of cancer research.
The Relay was kicked off by a celebratory “Survivors Lap,” as men and women distinguished by their purple shirts displaying “survivor” in bold print marched triumphantly, fueled by a steady applause from thousands of supporters.
Participants walked around the track from 5 p.m. on Saturday until 5 a.m. on Sunday. Cornell and Ithaca College raised over $215,000 collectively, which, through the American Cancer Society, will go to research, early detection and prevention education, advocacy and patient services.
Over 1,464 members of the Cornell community participated in the event, representing 148 teams.
According to Dana Cooper ’11 of Colleges Against Cancer, the organization responsible for planning Relay for Life, the event was a huge success.
At least one member of each team was circling the track at all times. According to Cooper, a few participants walked the entire night.
Others enjoyed the event’s activities and themed fundraising booths. At the WVBR “Fish Pong” table participants could donate a dollar to aim for a rack of fishbowls and win a goldfish for a sunken shot.
Relay participants were not without entertainment. An impressive queue of performing groups from both Cornell and Ithaca College graced the stage until 2:15 in the morning, including Cornell’s Anything Goes, Shadows dance troupe, Bhangra and Absolute A Capella.
“The CAC has been planning Relay for Life since September,” said Cooper. “A lot of effort went into the planning, including getting all of the food donated, recruiting teams and planning out the entertainment schedule. It was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun.”
Emily Bitar ’12 was impressed and moved by the turnout on Saturday.
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“It was really inspiring to see the large number of people who showed up for Relay for Life,” she said. “This was my first time participating and it was a great experience.”
Though much of the night was celebratory of strength and hope, special ceremonies were set aside for those lost to cancer. Participants decorated luminaria in honor of loved ones who battled cancer, or those currently fighting the disease. The lights of Barton Hall were turned off, the candles were lit, and participants took a silent lap around the track.
“The Luminaria Ceremony is a very touching part of the night,” Cooper said, who has a very personal connection to the event.
“I Relay for my Mom who was diagnosed with Breast Cancer a little over a year ago,” Cooper said. ”I Relay because we will beat this, and one day, the phrase ‘You have Cancer’ will not need to be said.”
Cooper’s mother is a Breast Cancer survivor.
For Elana Marber ’12, Relay for life carries an important message.
“I think Relay is a really great way to get the word out for people to protect themselves against different forms of cancer,” Marber said. “It really meant a lot to me to support my friend, whose mom is currently battling cancer.”
Each year relay draws more than 3.5 million people nationwide in a massive grassroots volunteer effort. This year marked the 25th year since the event’s founding. Participant shirts read “Celebrating 25 Years of Hope.”