Photo courtesy of Claire Fishman
Relay for Life is a community-based fundraising event that takes place all over the globe and is an annual event organized by volunteers at Montclair State University. The goal of the event is to raise awareness of how cancer affects peoples lives, celebrate and honor those who have battled cancer and raise money for future cancer research.
The event lasted for 12 hours and took place in Yogi Berra Stadium on campus. It started at 4 p.m. on Friday, May 1, and concluded at 4 a.m. on May 2. To participate in the event, students had to sign up as a team with a minimum of two students and each member would fundraise as much as they could before the overnight event took place. The event had games and entertainment along with different types of ceremonies to honor those who have beaten cancer and remember those who have lost their lives to this disease.
Relay for Life is both a practical fundraiser and a symbolic event. Along with all the games, entertainment and food provided, each team had to have at least one member constantly walking on the track as a reminder that cancer is a serious issue at all times, regardless of anyone’s individual circumstances and that people need to be proactive until we find a cure for the disease.
This year, Relay partnered with Yogi Berra Stadium to hold the event in a more accommodating space for the large amount of participants. According to Marissa Galley, a junior Family and Child Studies major, “This is MSU’s biggest Relay For Life event to date. The location being at Yogi Berra Stadium was definitely a part of it’s big success this year.” The size of the location allowed the organizers to have limbo, yoga, coconut bowling and dodgeball, along with other events that would be impossible in a smaller venue.
The theme they chose this year was luau and the event brought out over 800 MSU students and a little over 200 outside members of the community. As of Tuesday, May 5, the total amount of donations raised for cancer research was $50,803.10, and donations are currently still being accepted.
Marissa Gally and Carolyn Meyer were the main student organizers of the event. The two students, along with their committee members, have been working on this event since the beginning of September. They held bi-weekly meetings throughout the school year, hosted a variety of fundraisers and made all the necessary preparations for the event.
In one of the most well-known parts of the event, the organizers held a silent lap around the track for the luminary ceremony. At that time, speakers Mark Fontanella and Gabrielle Menna talked about their experiences with cancer. Both Fontanella and Menna took care of a loved one suffering from cancer.
This year marks the seventh annual Relay for Life event held by Montclair State University and this year’s event had the biggest turnout so far. According to Gally, the event brings more people every year and they hope that the trend continues until researchers figure out how to prevent cancer from taking more human lives.