Relay for Life at MSU

Students at Montclair State University prove that Relay For Life is so much more than a fundraiser.

Relay For Life events have become a worldwide phenomenon!

relay for life
Photo courtesy of Stephanie Schieder.

Each year, Relay For Life at Montclair State University continues to grow. Tables and tents belonging to each team lined Dioguardi Field’s track as participants walked to support the American Cancer Society. This year, the theme was superheroes, and everyone was encouraged to come dressed up and ready to fight back against cancer. Relay For Life is designed to bring a community of people together to honor those we have lost to cancer, support those who are fighting and celebrate the survivors.

For those who are not familiar with the basis of Relay For Life, raising money for the American Cancer Society is just a small part of such an influential event. Performances, games and prizes make the night fun, while ceremonies and guest speakers touch the hearts of those who have had personal experiences with the disease. This worldwide phenomenon didn’t get this way overnight. In May of 1985, Dr. Gordy Klatt raised $27,000 to aid in our country’s battle against cancer while walking and running around a track in Washington for a straight 24 hours. The following year, over 300 supporters joined him and since then, the overnight event has continued to grow and gain publicity.

Relay For Life officially kicked off after the opening ceremony. Participants followed tradition as the survivors and caregivers took the first lap around the track, while everyone else cheered them on. Bake sales and game tables were stationed around the track for participants to donate as they walked, and on the inside of the track, teams played sports and took pictures, cherishing the memories they were making with one another. Throughout the event, there were various performances to keep participants entertained. Player’s MILF (Montclair Improv League and Friends), Anthony Tortorello and Theta Xi’s Mickey Ladines played the guitar and sang together and the Montclair Dance Team performed this year’s routine. There were also Zumba and yoga classes, and a CPR demonstration done by Montclair’s EMS department.

“Every year I would like to see an increase in participants, as well as in the money fundraised throughout the year that goes towards the event,” said MSU’s Relay For Life Director, Marissa Gally. “I’ve been working to get all areas of campus involved and would love to see an increase in participation from faculty and staff members as well as a majority of the student organizations on campus.

MSU proudly raised $50,361.45 for Relay For Life 2016! This year, almost 1,200 superheroes participated in the event. Survivors, caregivers and supports not only from MSU, but also from local businesses and surrounding towns all came together to Relay for hope. There were 62 teams comprised of Greek organizations, student clubs, faculty and individual supporters that have been working hard leading up to the event to raise money and collect donations. Everyone’s dedication certainly paid off, as Relay For Life was a huge success.

As the sun went down, volunteers began preparing for the Luminaria Ceremony. During this time, previously decorated paper bags with candles inside them were placed around the track. Each Luminaria represented our loved ones who have been affected by cancer. Silence fell over the once rambunctious crowd as guest speakers shared their stories. Participants all held a glow stick, in which they illuminated in dedication to who they Relay for. Following this, everyone walked a silent lap before the festivities of Relay For Life resumed.

“The most rewarding part about helping put together such an amazing event is seeing it all come together,” said Gally. “This year I was amazed at how many people stuck through the rain and cold temperatures throughout the night and especially the luminary ceremony when it was pouring. It was wonderful to see the campus band together to fight back against cancer.”

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