Student Life Editor
The fear of losing someone can be a uniting force among people; especially when it’s cancer.
Everyone knows someone with cancer—which was the driving force behind 454 participants celebrating, remembering, and fighting back in this year’s Keene State College’s Relay for Life.
On April 13, 2012, 40 teams participated in KSC’s third annual Relay for Life in the Spaulding Gymnasium in the biggest relay event KSC has seen, led by junior Rebecca Lazinsk.
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After Lazinsk lost her mother to cancer, fighting for others’ survival became her way of coping with her mom’s passing.
“Relay allows me to throw myself into something where I feel like I am making a difference and helping other kids. I really obviously wish something could have changed for me,” Lazinsk said.
“Since I can’t change that now, I really hope that my work will let another girl help keep their mom and one day help my kids.”
In the spring of 2009, Lazinsk brought the first Relay for Life event to KSC.
“I knew it was what I had to do,” she said.
“I look at the numbers all the time and it blows my mind where we are at right now.”
As of Sunday, the final amount raised was $27,300, just $700 shy of Lazinsk’s $28,000 goal.
Though the overall number did not meet Lazink’s goal following the event, many individual teams surpassed the established team goal of $1,000.
Team aMERIcan exceeded that goal raising $5,825.
Team captain Lindsay Cohen explained she formed the team after her best friend Meredith Green was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in January, 2012.
“I’ve done relay, but I’ve never had my own team. But this time, when it was for her, I knew I had to make a team,” Cohen said.
Green was diagnosed January 13, 2012, with a treatment plan set to end in June.
“It’s so much more than just a walk around the KSC gym. It’s so awesome to see everyone, all the teams that have come out for different reasons-their friends, their families,” Green said.
Team Jackson, led by Elise Johnson, raised $2,620 for friend Sarah Baker, who was recently diagnosed with cancer.
“We’re doing it for Sarah. We want to support her,” Andrew Phillips, Team Jackson member said.
Over the 12 hour event period, 40 teams like Team Jackson, walked the set course in the Disney themed recreational gym.
Every team supported those they know who have been affected by cancer.
The night was split into three categories; “Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back.” One team fighting back was team Hu-RA!, the third top fundraising team.
The team, which was based out of Huntress Hall, was led by Residential Assistant Danielle Almon. Hu-RA! as a team, raised $1,470.
Almon said she had previously participated in Relay for Life at home and continued that tradition of standing behind a cure for cancer at KSC.
“There’s three parts (of relay): celebrate, remember, and fight back, and I really like the fight back one because it’s great to celebrate everyone that is still here, but it’s important to remember to fight back against it,” Almon said.
“I know it might be naïve but I think we can really cure cancer and I just want to be a part of it.”
Almon, along with other participants, took their participation a step further and donated their hair to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths campaign, proving cancer should not be able to control every aspect of a fighter’s life.
If cancer never sleeps, why should we?
Participants’ energy levels were kept high by performances from Chock Full of Notes, the KSC Dance Team, and various competitions, all of which correlated to the Disney theme.
KSC survivor Elena Felitto represented one of the 15 survivors present at this year’s Relay event.
“I was born with cancer. I ended up being in full remission when I was a year-and-a-half old,” Felitto explained.
“Everyone on our team has a real passion and personal connection. I mean everyone does, but it’s what you do with it.”
Social Activities Council member Erin Zoellick raised $1,433.
Zoellick, who is close friends with Lazinsk, said she has seen the event grow significantly over the past three years.
“They just keep coming up with ideas. Becca’s awesome with that. She’s always thinking of other things to do at the event,” she said.
Zoellick came out to show her support for the same reason many others did—to fight for those they know who have been affected by cancer.
“Everybody knows somebody who is affected by cancer so it’s just this huge organization,” Zoellick stated.
Ryan Mahan, a freshman member of the Social Activities Council team said “I think relay does a neat job showing that everybody knows somebody who has cancer or who is involved with it. Relay does a good job promoting the cause and awareness.”
Circle K President Kelly Rowles formed a team through members of her organization.
She encouraged her team members to fundraise individually via outlets such as Facebook and email.
Rowles said, “The goal of relay is to have one person from each team walking the entire time.”
Rowles explained Circle K had not done that in the past and expressed that as her goal for this year.
“I know that all teams do that but I think that would be really powerful if we could say that there was always one person on the track at all times. That would be my goal.”
Like Rowles, Phi Sigma Sigma team captain Madison Rosa encouraged members of her team to walk the entire time.
“This year I did shifts and sign-ups. There should be at least 20 of us at all times throughout the night,” the philanthropy chair said.
“I really want to show our support.”
The Phi Sigma Sigma captain concluded, “Its’ really a chance to stand up for something we are blessed to not have. It’s about hope–that’s what it is.”
But for some, like Lazinsk, cancer remains as a battle that impacts her daily life.
Yet, there is that hope that exists that one day there will be a cure.
“My dad actually had prostate cancer this summer so this event this year means extra a lot to me. I certainly believe that it could be the money from Keene State that helps save something that helps save my dad,” Lazinsk shared.
“It could be any event, but that also means it could be ours and that’s awesome.”
Julie Conlon can be contacted at
Sam Norton can be contacted at
Graphic by: Chelsea Nickerson / Graphics Editor