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February 14, 2012 1:19 am

Relay For Life Returns to St. Mary’s

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On Saturday, Feb. 11, the St. Mary’s community gathered in the Michael P. O’Brien Athletic and Recreation Center (MPOARC) to show why they relay at the third Relay for Life event hosted at the college.

Relay for Life is a fundraiser event that benefits the American Cancer Society and fights against all types of cancer and honors those who have fought against it.

Seniors Kimmy Routson and Emily Gershon give Senior Katie West a purple hair streak in honor of Pancreatic Cancer while Senior Camille Campanella watches. (Photo by Kevin Baier)
Seniors Kimmy Routson and Emily Gershon give Senior Katie West a purple hair streak in honor of Pancreatic Cancer while Senior Camille Campanella watches. (Photo by Kevin Baier)

The event ran from 6 pm Saturday evening to 6 a.m. Sunday morning while participants of teams took turns walking around the track. The 19 teams included members of sports teams and clubs, academic departments, and various other groups on campus and from around the community.  Activities like water pong, a date auction, rock climbing, corn hole, zumba, get your picture taken with President Urgo in a funny hat, and a Newspaper Fashion Show were also included.

In total, as of Sunday, Feb. 12, the event raised $28,546 for the society.  The top teams, who raised over $3,000 for the cause, were Res Life and SMC A Capella Against Cancer, and the top individual participants were junior Will Dyer, Director of Residence Life Joanne Goldwater, and junior Madailein Harrigan, who all raised over $1,000.

Event co-chair and club president junior Elise Valkanas headed the event this year, after being involved in Relay for the past two years. Valkanas was captain of the Kicking Cancer team, which raised over $2,100 for the event.

“It’s amazing. It’s a great way for people to come together, and it’s for a great cause,” she said.

This year, Relay for Life was held two weeks earlier than usual, a change that Valkanas expressed concerned for, however, she still was pleased with the turnout.  “It was a little tougher to plan this year because it was crunch time after we got back from break.  Also, it was tougher to get people involved because [American Cancer Society] added a ten dollar fee for registration this year.”

Valkanas herself got involved with the organization after her best friend’s mother got cancer while they were in middle school.  She continued her involvement after the death of her friend’s mother in high school, and continued when she came to St. Mary’s.

Sophomore Anuli Duru attended the event, and was a part of the Swagged Out OLs team. “I went last year as well, and it’s always an amazing experience,” she said.  “It’s a lot of different types of people from the community that come out for the same cause.  It warms my heart to see the people there together that you usually don’t see together, whether it’s sports teams, or different clubs.” Duru participated in the date auction portion of the event.

Valkanas also mentioned that this year, the club also plans to hold smaller fundraisers once a month for the rest of the school year, similar to the “Midnight Munchies” fundraiser held last semester, when the club sold hot chocolate and grilled cheese sandwiches for one dollar each in the campus center.

The committee that organized the event along with Valkanas would love to keep the event going, and make it an annual event at St. Mary’s.

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