UB raises more than $55,000 at annual Relay For Life event

Students walk all night in support of cancer research

By SAMAYA ABDUS-SALAAM
On April 15, 2014

  • Students packed into Alumni Arena from Friday night to Saturday morning to set up “campsites” at Relay for Life. Different student groups sold baked goods, bracelets, Buffalo wings and other goods to help fundraise for cancer research. Jeff Scott, The Spectrum

Lauren "Loloy" Martinek and her grandmother shared a love for Harry Potter. Throughout her grandmother's battle with ovarian cancer, Martinek, a freshman mechanical engineering major, spent time reading the Harry Potter series to her. Her grandmother died in the middle of the fifth book.

That is why Martinek does Relay For Life.

On Friday night, 88 teams - including people from Greek Life, the resident halls, clubs as well as cancer survivors - gathered for UB's Relay For Life in Alumni Area. The night had a superhero theme.

Teams were placed in "campsites," where the majority of their fundraising took place. Meanwhile, at least one team member walked around the track surrounding the campsites at all times, from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Saturday.

The Relay For Life event raised more than $55,000, according to Missy Stolfi, a program coordinator for Relay For Life and a representative from the American Cancer Society.

Some teams were competing against others to raise money. The top three team fundraisers were UB Against Cancer ($6,301), Phi Alpha Delta ($4,533) and AEPi Upsilon Beta ($3,522).

At registration, Relay's leadership team counted 1,300 participants, and 1,475 people participated by the end of the event. Relay For Life's leadership committee has been planning this event since the beginning of the fall semester, said Julie Smith, one of Relay's project coordinators. 

Throughout the year, the organizers and participating teams have been fundraising for Relay through a number of student-led events, like a bowling night. Many of the leadership team members have dealt with cancer in their lives and have used their own experiences to inspire them to participate in Relay.

Teams also set up booths and sold baked goods to raise money. Participants purchased "Relay Bucks" throughout the event to acquire food, bracelets and other items for fundraising. One Relay Buck equaled $1.

The opening ceremony introduced students and faculty who were involved in planning Relay For Life. Dhyan Chandra, an associate professor of oncology at Roswell Park Center Institute, spoke during the ceremony about the importance of college students' support of cancer research.

"[It is] very exciting to have so many students involved in preventing and [the] treatment of cancer," Chandra said. He believes students' participation in events like Relay will help them better understand cancer.  

After the opening ceremony, the Luminaria event took place. Participants remembered loved ones through a written dedication on a white paper bag that was illuminated with a glow stick. Each bag was taped along the perimeter of the track and lit for a portion of the night. Cancer survivors and team leaders took the first lap in honor of those who have battled cancer.

A video tribute, as a part of the Luminaria ceremony, came up on the Jumbotron displaying photos of cancer survivors with inspirational quotes from Batman, Martian Manhunter and other superheroes.

Last year, UB's Relay For Life raised $50,000, but in the past, they have raised as much as $75,000. All the money raised will go the American Cancer Society to fund cancer research and programs like Hope Lodge, where cancer patients and caregivers can reside free of charge.

The support students continue to show for the event has impressed the leadership committee. Late Night UB, which hosts events on Friday nights, partnered with Relay For Life this year, selling "stuffed Victors" - UB Bulls stuffed animals - for Relay Bucks.

Stolfi said she has participated in many Relays at other colleges, but UB's Relay is different.

"[The] sheer number of students here on a Friday night makes it so impressive," Stolfi said. "For me, one of the unique things is the commitment from the committee. They spend time all year planning this."

Many students who participated in Relay said they are planning to stay involved with it and will continue to raise money and awareness for cancer research in the future.

Stolfi said students who want to be involved in the fight to cure cancer can join UB Against Cancer, a student-led club that mentors students in raising awareness for cancer research.

 

email: news@ubspectrum.com


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