“Relay for Life is the largest fundraiser that the American Cancer Society does. It’s to save lives, celebrate lives and lead the fight to a world without cancer,” said Morgan Wright, the American Cancer Society representative at Hofstra University.
Hofstra students dressed in purple and joined together on April 27 to take part in Relay for Life. The event is run by the American Cancer Society and helps raise money for cancer research.
Purple balloons could be seen all across the university's intramural fields, and luminaria lined the walkways as participants fundraised.
Wright works alongside Kathleen Lieblich, who is the assistant director of student advocacy and prevention awareness.
“I support the students as their adviser for Relay for Life,” Lieblich said. “I have been relaying since college, so I have a long-standing history with Relay for Life, and I’m a huge advocate.”
Relay for Life isn’t exclusive to Hofstra University. Wright says events take place across the globe.
The American Cancer Society has "a bunch of Relay for Life events happening all over the world, actually happening in thousands and thousands of communities, high schools and colleges,” Wright said.
According to the American Cancer Society website, the goal of the organization is to “free the world from cancer” through “funding and conducting research, sharing expert information, supporting patients, and spreading the word about prevention. All so you can live longer — and better.”
Student organizations on campus or individuals can raise money before the event through activities such as bake sales, car washes or even just by posting on social media.
“We have people start a team, join a team or join as an individual on our website, which is relayforlife.org/hofstrany,” said Wright. “People can sign up, they can do fundraisers on Facebook, or Twitter or Instagram. That’s how the fundraising aspect works”
“I relay because of my grandma who passed away from cancer, and I just don’t think that any family should have to lose someone from cancer,” junior Ellie Brodie said.
Brodie served as team captain of Phi Alpha Delta, the university’s pre-law fraternity, at Relay for Life. She said Relay for Life is vital in funding research that could eventually lead to a cure for cancer.
“These events where we raise money to help cancer research," she said, "are very important so that we can get the resources that they need, and so they can get the funds that they need for the kind of research to help stop this disease.”
“The reason that I’m at Relay for Life is because a lot of my family members have been diagnosed with cancer, and one of my closest friends had cancer and luckily beat cancer,” said Madison Wright, a senior member of the Alpha Theta Beta sorority at Hofstra.
The Hofstra Relay for Life event kicked off with an opening ceremony to welcome all of the students and community members participating, along with live music and a performance from the Hofstra pep band.
Sophomore tenor saxophone player Julia Berk had the chance to perform at the event with the Hofstra pep band, and said she was glad to be able to perform because she supports cancer research.
“Performing at events like Relay is great because I love playing, and it’s for a great cause,” Berk said. “It’s basically a win-win. Pep band also loves getting involved and showing support for cancer victims."
The cancer survivors took their first lap together, followed by the caregivers, and then the event went in to full celebration. All of the teams, made up of different organizations at Hofstra, walked the designated path on the field marked by paper bag lanterns as a symbol of the fight against cancer that many are struggling with.
Teams also set up tents with varying activities. All purchases of raffle tickets and food went toward the Relay for Life cause.
In memory of those who lost their battle with cancer, the night ended with the lighting of luminaria. Participants wrote the names of lost loved ones or those currently fighting cancer on the bags and set them along the walking path to light up the night as they walked.
“We all have similar stories, and we all need to fight together to end cancer as a whole,” Madison Wright said.