Students Relay in All-night Fight For Cancer

Ramapo held its eighth annual Relay for Life, where participants showed their support for friends, family, fellow students and the overall fight against cancer at an all-night event in the Bradley Center on Friday.

The theme of this year's Relay for Life was board games, creating a carnival-like atmosphere where all 667 participants could enjoy games, contests, food and other activities throughout the night. It was a lighthearted setting where participants could join together with others who have been affected by cancer, including survivors and their supporters.

In addition to bonding with others who have been touched by cancer, the event also helped the battle against the disease by raising money for the American Cancer Society (ACS). This year's Relay for Life raised a total of $53,095.72. Of the 57 teams that donated money to support the ACS's initiatives through Relay for Life, the Colleges Against Cancer team donated the most, raising approximately $5,140.02.

However, despite the fun nature of many events held that night, there were also somber reminders of how serious cancer can be. For instance, during the Luminaria Ceremony, participants were asked to light up their glow sticks in memory of loved ones who had lost their battles with cancer. 

Some of the events also catered particularly to Ramapo College. The Jay Everett Band performed songs as a tribute to their friend Isadora Seibert, a Class of 2010 Ramapo graduate who lost her battle with cancer on March 6. Team Isadora, a group formed in memory of Seibert, raised $4,561, coming second only in fundraising to the Colleges Against Cancer team.

Ramapo's Relay for Life is coordinated by a committee of students who volunteer their time to prepare for the event and ensure that everything runs smoothly. Coordinator Kara Graham said she joined Ramapo's Relay for Life effort because her high school did not have any such program, and she felt it was important that cancer survivors be able to participate and get support through this type of event.

"I think that's great that survivors come to the event because they feel as if they're part of the Ramapo community and because the students can learn a lot from them," said Graham.

Survivor Chair Erica Minoui agreed, saying that she felt that it was a good opportunity to make new relationships with cancer survivors, who were able to share their personal stories with all the participants at the beginning of the night.

Michelle Dunn, Ramapo College registrar, was one of the survivors who discussed her individual battle with cancer. Dunn was diagnosed in 2007 and beat it in less than a year. 

Many Ramapo students participated in Relay for Life in honor of friends or family who were affected by cancer.

"I wanted to help a good cause and my aunt and uncle passed away from cancer," said Michelle Dickman, a freshman.

Other students, including Andrew D'Angelo, a junior, said he was also encouraged to participate in Relay for Life this year because his grandmother had cancer. 

In addition to participating, Ramapo students put in a lot of effort to help the Relay for Life committee with the creation and execution of  the event. Many on-campus organizations, including Colleges Against Cancer and several Greek organizations, contributed games and activities to enhance the board game theme that allowed guests not only to learn about cancer awareness and prevention, but to have an all-around good time and earn money for a great cause, too.

Organizations sponsored games and activities that participants could play throughout the night. For instance, Tau Kappa Epsilon operated a cornhole game in which players could win candy and other prizes commonly found at a carnival. Other less traditional games included "bra pong," a game that gave players three attempts to shoot a ping-pong ball into a bra to win prizes.

Continuing with the theme, the course itself, which participants were encouraged to walk laps around, was lined with title deed cards that were themed after the Monopoly board game. The fictional locations included ACS Can Court, Advocacy Avenue, Self-Check Street and Cancerwise Way, all containing the names of terminology that the American Cancer Society uses in its efforts to support cancer awareness and prevention.

The all-night event was a mix of fun, bonding, support and, most importantly, continuing the fight against cancer with a donation of over $53,000 to the American Cancer Society.