Stony Brook’s third Relay for Life took place on April 27 at the campus recreational fields, continuing throughout the night until the next morning.
This year, the 74 teams and 628 participants raised over $50,000 for the American Cancer Society. Teams that participated included the Stony Brook Dance Team, the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and the Stony Brook Health and Nutrition Club, along with residence halls, sororities and fraternities.
The Stony Brook Swimming and Diving Team was recognized as the top fundraising team, with over $7,700 raised.
Co-chair Megan Dwyer said, “These teams are a true representation of the diversity of this campus. Each team may have a different reason to participate in Relay for Life, but it’s so powerful to know that we are all there to support one common goal—to end cancer.”
Co-chair Claire Smith expressed what the event means to the university, “An event like Relay for Life is something that can really bring the while Stony Brook community together. Whether you are a student, staff, or alumni, almost everyone has been affected by cancer in some way.”
The co-chairs explained what it takes to organize such an event. Dwyer said, “We usually hold our first meeting the first week that classes begin in August, and we meet regularly up until the big event in April…. Our jobs aren’t easy, but the satisfaction on putting on an amazing fundraising event that helps to fight back against cancer makes it all worth it.”
The Co-Chairs stressed the importance of communication in planning. Smith said, “Whether it’s communicating with the other co-chair, with the rest of the committee or others in the Stony Brook community communication is the key to getting things done.”
The event opened with a ceremony with designated laps for cancer survivors and caregivers. Throughout the night, at least one person had to walk around the set up track line with Luminaria bags dedicated to loved ones lost to cancer.
To go along with this year’s carnival theme there were games and contests such as bobbing for apples, tug-o-war, and the “Mizz Relay” drag show competition. There were also performances by the Stony Brook Dance Team and the Pipettes.
Survivors at Relay included Casey-Marie Schultz, invited by the Cancer Center. This being her first time at the event, she thought that the groups participating were “absolutely phenomenal.”
Also, there was Marian Fourman, at her third Relay for Life. She said, “Each year as I’m walking, I hope I can do it the next year.” Fourman is a part of the Stony Brook community, studying liberal arts, with two sons also attending the school. She said Relay for Life was “very different” this year, being outside, as it was getting cold once the sun started to set, but she was “proud” to be there.
Survivor Linda Billy, Supervisor and Patient Advocate at the Stony Brook University Cancer Center, was also there to walk and thought it was important for the students walking the event to meet people who have survived cancer. She was invited to speak during the opening ceremony, telling the crowd that she has been a survivor for almost fifteen years and had all of her treatment at Stony Brook.
Billy said, “There are over 12 million survivors in the United States,” but added that even so, “1500 a day die of cancer.” She explained that “the American Cancer Society funds a ton of very important research” and that Stony Brook works “very closely” with the organization.
Pamela Parker of the American Cancer Society told the teams, “You guys are truly a college that gets what Relay for Life is about,” in raising over $50,000.
She explained that the funds from the organization go towards research, patient services, and advocacy. Parker discussed an initiative called “Cancer Prevention Study 3” (CPS-3) which has the goal of finding environmental, genetic and lifestyle causes of cancer. At Stony Brook, 156 people have been enrolled in the study. She referenced CPS-1 and CPS-2, which found smoking and obesity to be linked to cancer, respectively.