Nearly 1,000 students and community members came together in the Events Center on Saturday night to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
At Binghamton University’s annual Relay for Life, participants took turns walking around the board game-themed track, participating in games and activities and chowing down on free food. The event was planned by Colleges Against Cancer, an organization with active chapters on nearly 600 college campuses, which oversees the organization of Relay for Life on campuses across the country.
With the help of 70 relay teams, the event raised over $71,000 for the American Cancer Society. Since 2005, BU’s Relay for Life has raised over $700,000. The National Residence Hall Honorary team raised the most money, followed by the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity and the Phi Mu sorority.
According to Michael Jean, the co-chair of the National Campus Leadership Team for the American Cancer Society and a junior majoring in political science, this year’s donations will provide over 1,200 nights of free stays in Hope Lodges for patients undergoing treatment far from home, as well as nearly 4,800 rides to and from treatment through the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program.
Beginning at 4 p.m., the event kicked off with an opening ceremony to honor those who have been affected by cancer, followed by a Survivors and Caregivers walk around the track. Hannah Stevens, Survivors and Caregivers director for the event and a sophomore majoring in biology, said she was responsible for recruiting and inviting cancer survivors to be celebrated at the opening ceremony.
“I chose to be a part of Colleges Against Cancer because I knew someone who was affected by cancer for four years before passing away in 2015,” Stevens said. “Seeing how strong she was throughout all of it, and having hope the entire time, inspired me to do as much as I possibly can to end the fight against cancer and to find a cure so that no one has to hear the words, ‘You have cancer,’ ever again.”
According to Alyssa Wei, vice president of production for the event and a sophomore majoring in integrative neuroscience, the organizing committee spends almost the entire year planning and preparing for Relay for Life.
“Relay for Life is the signature event for the American Cancer Society,” Wei said. “On this one day a year, we come together with our communities, battle delusion from lack of sleep and celebrate life and honor those we have lost.”
At 4 a.m., the event closed with a candlelight ceremony. Several cancer survivors and caregivers spoke as each attendee was given a glow stick to commemorate a life taken by cancer, a cancer survivor or someone currently battling cancer.
Ryan Antonucci, a sophomore majoring in biology, said he joined a team made by his friends to support the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life’s purpose.
“I think the event was really well put together,” Antonucci said. “Seeing the final total raised for [the American Cancer Society] was very fulfilling, knowing that every single person at Relay contributed and helped someone out there fighting against their cancer.”