Keene community raises $17,526 at Relay for Life
Relay For Life took place for the fifth year at Keene State College on Friday, April 11, and continued into the following morning in the Spaulding Gymnasium.
The fundraiser, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, had a turnout consisting of not only students and members of the town, but some groups from neighboring states.
Katiee Boyle, KSC sophomore and Relay for Life event chair said, “We had a great turnout. We had thirty-four teams and four-hundred-and-five participants.”
According to Boyle, the event raised $17,526.
“We worked so hard to put it together and we were so happy to see how many students this impacted,” Boyle continued.
The event had food, games and activities scheduled according to the KSC Relay for Life Facebook page.
Kelly Heinze, a Relay for Life specialist, said the various games and activities exist for the purpose of keeping the 12-hour event exciting through the night. Heinze said, “We have these activities to keep people up and moving when it is the middle of the night and they’re tired.”
The walk, which began at 8 p.m. and continued to 8 a.m. the next morning, took on a different theme each hour: Formal wear, country/cowboy attire, power of purple (Relay for Life’s signature color), America, “meet a friend,” glow- in-the-dark, P.J. party, soulmate, 90s, superhero, big band and finally a clean-up.
The fundraiser also included four ceremonies. The walk commenced with the opening ceremony, which is the known as the “Survivors Lap.”
“At this time, all cancer survivors at the event take the first lap around the track, celebrating their victory over cancer, while being cheered on by the other participants,” Heinze noted.
Coinciding with the power of purple lap was the Luminaria Ceremony at 11 p.m. According to RelayforLife.org, this ceremony takes place at every Relay event across the nation.
“It is held to remember those who have lost the battle to cancer as well as those who are still fighting. It is mostly quiet for this hour, except for some low music. The lights are off and we line the track with bags which hold lights that each team can decorate if they want. Generally, it is done with candles, but since we’re inside, we’re using glow sticks,” Heinze said.
At 2 a.m., the Fight Back ceremony took place. This ceremony is designed to inspire Relay participants to take action.
Sophomore Ashley Debonee said, “I like helping people. I joined my sorority in order to further my ability to help others, and do more than I could on my own.”
The Delta Phi Epsilon member and second-time Relay participant went on to say, “I choose to walk for my sister who is currently fighting cancer.”
Swanzey resident Cheryl Russell, a survivor of cervical cancer, stated, “I walk for myself and my mother who also survived cancer.”
Russell’s husband Michael also attended and stated, “I walk for my wife as well as my parents who both passed away from cancer.” He added, “I’ve also participated in Relay in the Monadnock area for the past four years.”
Barbara Marrotte, long-time friend of Russell’s, said, “I am here for my adopted mother, a two-time breast cancer survivor, and my best friend Cheryl.”
Hannah Lavin, a freshman and first-time “relayer,” said, “The mood was somber when appropriate, but other than that very optimistic and upbeat.” Lavin said, “I am not walking for a particular person, but am here to get involved with members of Delta Xi Phi because I’m pledging the sorority.”
KSC junior Tyler Fabiano who worked security for the walk stated, “I know a lot of people who have been affected by cancer, like we all do, and Relay really does a lot to help out.”
Fabiano’s statement was expressed by attendees, as it was not just members of the Keene community who participated Friday night, but also members of the Sigma Pi chapter from Fitchburg State University.
Fitchburg sophomore and Sigma Pi brother, Jacob Roth, said, “The event had a positive atmosphere and good entertainment. I also became a bone marrow donor.” Roth continued, “I walk for my dad who died from brain cancer.”
Zach Fournier can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org