Sponsored by UR for the first time, the Relay for Life, American Cancer Society’s major fundraising event, was held at St. John Fisher College from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. on April 1.

“Relay for Life is the biggest fundraiser for the American Cancer Society,” President of UR Colleges Against Cancer and junior Kat Abejuela said. “Basically, it’s a time to commemorate people who have died of cancer and people who have survived cancer. We raised over $60,000.”

The event was planned and organized by Abejuela, with the help of Relay for Life Program Chair and sophomore Sarah Baroody.

During the event, teams comprised of eight to 14 students tried to have at least one person from their team walking laps at all times – UR had 39 teams.

The event started off with the survivor lap at 7 p.m., followed by 12 hours of walking.

The event also had other activities, including contests, music and a commemoration slideshow to keep the walkers entertained.

“[Relay for Life] was incredible, and we were amazed at how much money we could raise,” Baroody said. “The event is held overnight, the idea being that cancer never sleeps. UR wasn’t totally aware of what it was, so we couldn’t have it here, but they were great about having it at Fisher and they provided the bussing.”

UR collected over $27,000 in only a month through online donations.

St. John Fisher and Nazareth College raised a combined $33,000 in over six months.

The online fundraising started on Feb. 28 and is still open for donations until August.

“I thought that the event was phenomenal,” Business Manager of Colleges Against Cancer and junior David Morse said. “The student response was incredible, and the amount raised was overwhelming. It really showed that not all students at UR are as apathetic as everyone likes to think. I’ve never seen an event on campus which had so many people involved and

raised so much money for a good cause.”

Most of the money raised in the fundraiser will be spent toward cancer research.

“A lot of that money goes to Strong, because it receives the biggest grant from the American Cancer Society,” Abejuela said. “It is really important for us to have it at UR because of that.”

Abejuela had been planning for this event since December. She founded the Colleges Against Cancer club, with the primary objective of educating students about cancer and its effects.

“I got interested in Colleges Against Cancer because of Relay for Life,” Abejuela said. “Going to the RFL meeting made me realize that the school needed something else, like a club or some place that would just have cancer education because it affects so many people.”

The event has received tremendous publicity from various news media. An article on the Relay for Life will be published in the American Cancer Society’s Newsletter. Abejuela and Baroody were also interviewed by Fox 31 and the local NBC station.

The event took tremendous planning and organization and it was held without a problem.

“It was just very hard to organize because I had to do schoolwork, too – it was hard to balance everything,” Abejuela said. “And the three RFL weeks leading up to the relay was a lot of work. But it was a huge success, and we never realized how much money we could raise by doing that. So it was all worth it,”

The event also evoked great enthusiasm among students who attended it.

“I thought the event was a ton of fun and I barely even noticed I was walking for several hours,” sophomore MaryCarol Karl said. “It was a great way to get out there and help the community and even support the people in your life that have battled or are battling cancer. I would really love to see this event at UR next year, as well.”

Sridharan can be reached at asridharan@campustimes.org.

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