Last Friday night, more than 650 students gathered to take part in Ramapo’s annual overnight Relay for Life. Numerous clubs and organizations came together to raise more than $50,000 for the American Cancer Society.
The auxiliary gym was packed with participants and the walking path around the gym was surrounded by representatives from campus organizations with games to play. The event began with opening remarks from Raymond Rigoli, a professor of accounting at Ramapo, and Serena Bucaj, Miss New York 2016. The night also held ceremonies meant to recognize and support cancer survivors and remember those who have been lost.
“Every step we take here is to help stomp out cancer,” said senior Kevin Cristi.
For many, the most emotional part of the night was when they all gathered to break glow sticks to signify whose honor they were walking in. Kimberly Simunovich, a member of Alpha Phi Omega’s team, delivered a moving speech about the slow loss of her mother to cancer last fall, and then, event co-chair Stefanie Shapiro led the group in the glow stick ceremony.
“When you snap the glow stick, it’s the sound your heart is making because of cancer,” said Shapiro as she read out a list of reasons why they had gathered to participate.
The exercise demonstrated the impact cancer has on everyone’s lives.
“She said ‘mother,’ then you’d hear glow sticks crack around the room, and then ‘father’ and there were more cracks. It was just really sad to hear the crackles scattered throughout the room,” said Samantha Mundy, a freshman currently helping her grandfather battle cancer. “Eventually everyone’s glow stick was cracked.”
By the end, every one of the participants' glow sticks were snapped.
“My grandpa had the same kind of cancer as the opening speaker had, and so it’s usually for him. But recently, some of the kids I went to high school with have died within the last year or two,” said Amanda van Loren, a junior.
The sisters of Sigma Sigma Sigma were walking to support Sara Dawidowicz, one of their own who is a survivor.
“Ramapo does Relay for Life because there’s a huge majority of students who have been affected by everything it stands for and as a community we’re so fortunate to have this resource to fundraise. One of our sisters in Delta Phi Epsilon has been affected, and I know several girls in Theta Phi Alpha have as well,” said Daniela Luciano, a sophomore. “So I think we have that closeness to our sisters and that’s why there’s such a large group of us."
The majority of groups present were Greek life, but organizations and clubs from all parts of campus united to take part in the overnight walk.
“It was a chance for everyone to come together and reflect on the way that cancer has touched their lives,” said freshman James Costanzo. “I’m glad I was able to be a part of it.”