Survivors, Mercy students, and the community rallied together at the first Mercy College Relay For Life in six years.
On April 6, Mercy College hosted Relay For Life in the gym of the Victory Building. Relay For Life honors those who have battled cancer and have won. It also celebrates the survivors of family members who supported loved ones who have succummbed to cancer.
However, Relay for Life is all about celebrating new life and birthdays. Jim Poulin, one of the event chairmen and a team member said, “I’ve been participating at Mercy College’s Relay For life since 1994. It was usually scheduled in June, but not a lot of students would go to the event in the summer. It was canceled for 6 years.”
Before the survivor walk began, a young lady, Amanie, come up to the stage and addressed the crowd. Amanie is a survivor of a cancer called Retinoblastoma. This cancer is a rare form of eye cancer which develops in childhood. Her family still does not know how their daughter got this cancer. Amanie and her father walked up the stairs to the stage where she talked about her journey.
“Although I lost my sight at the age of 3, [I] made it though. We’ll never give up the fight.”
Relay For Life started in 1985 in Washington when Dr. Gordy Klatt ran 24 hours around a track. He raised $27,000 for the American Cancer Society. Relay for Life is an organized overnight event. Travis Williams, a sophomore studying to be a physician’s assistant, said this event will be 12 hours long. On Relay For Life’s official website, it shows what activities take place at a rally. One activity Relay For Life does is called the Luminaria Ceremony at night. Everyone lights a candle and remembers all the people who have lost their lives to cancer.
Williams is a 6 year event chairman planner for Relay For Life. He started participating after his great grandmother passed away from cancer. “I started in my high school years. Families came together to support and grow as a community.”
Williams looks forward to seeing changes in the future.
“I want people to know we are always here to help.”
Something that Relay For Life does differently from other cancer walks is they allow the survivors to walk first by themselves. When the survivors were walking around the gym, everyone else cheered and clapped. Afterward Jamie Copperman, the event planner, gave all 29 teams their signs. Copperman works for Relay For Life and this is her second season. She said, “We are planning on having more than 200 participants this year. We are expecting $18,000 in donations today.”
Coe Goll and Tracy Argenzio are two women who participated in other Relay For Life events. “This will be my first year at Mercy’s event, but I have gone to the Queens’ events before,” said Goll. “I had relatives who died of cancer. I donated wigs to patients in hospitals.”
At the event, students, faculty, and local businesses showed up to support and donate. Out of 20 or more tables,the women’s lacrosse team was selling bright pink lacrosse shirts with the help from coach Dawn Anselmin. Whenever a shirt was bought, 50 percent was donated. There was a raffle table consisting of 50/50 tickets, cupcakes, brownies, and other sweets, and prizes such as hair braids and picture frames.
Pact Mentor Airl Rabadi and her students Bobby Kennedy, a freshman studying vet tech, and Liz Remano, a freshman studying social work, were active in the event by greeting guests and raising funds.
Rabadi said “We are part of the purple ring group, and we sold hundreds in donations already.”
Dobbs Ferry businesswoman Rosa Gomez, who owns Rosa Azul Salon and Spa, donated half the proceeds to hospitals and research.
“It’s a great event, and it’s for a great cause.”