SU’s Relay for Life raises over $80,000 for the American Cancer Society

SU's Relay for Life raises $80,000+ for American Cancer Society

Students and community members gather overnight to honor, celebrate and help those affected by cancer.
Published: March 29, 2018
Relay for Life attendees
Relay for Life attendees circle the track following the Luminaria ceremony.

Syracuse University students and community members took over the Carrier Dome on Saturday to celebrate the annual Relay for Life. They honored those who currently are battling and have battled against cancer.

The overnight event was 12 hours long, from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m., to represent that cancer doesn’t sleep and neither do the people gathered there to celebrate, remember and fight back.

“We edited it a little bit to make it earlier in the day so that it was more accessible for different people, especially community members we like to see come,” said Charlotte Ochs, one of the three students running Syracuse’s relay.

Relay for Life is the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society (ACS) where teams raise money that will go toward cancer research, support groups, rides for treatment and scholarships for students with cancer.

Lights at Relay for Life
SU's annual overnight Relay for Life was held at the Carrier Dome on Saturday, March 24.

The 624 participants registered into 49 teams raised more than $80,000 dollars this year. All of the proceeds will stay in the area and be divided into county or region depending on how the ACS locally disperses it.

Syracuse University does the student-run Relay for Life a little differently than others, Ochs said.

“Typically in community-run events you have one person from each team walking at all times, but since we’re a college event we kind of change it up and allow people to do things that are a little bit more high energy,” Ochs added, “So you have the option to walk the tracks, but we usually just have different events going on.”

Different events on Saturday included an inflatable obstacle-course along with carnival themed fundraising tables filled with balloons and popcorn.

A common misconception about the event was that it is not an actual relay, Ochs said. There is no running and walking is optional. While Relay for Life is an opportunity for people to grieve, it’s also a time to celebrate.

“This is a happy event, it’s not sad,” breast cancer survivor Cindy Falzone said.

Falzone just finished chemotherapy this past week after battling with cancer for more than a year. This was her first Relay for Life.

“Half the battle really, and my mom had breast cancer, my sister has it, is you just have to keep a positive attitude,” Falzone said.

Participants during Relay for Life
Members of the Syracuse University chapter of Alpha Phi Omega fraternity console each other around the Luminaria for one of their brothers who is currently battling cancer.

Relay for Life kicked off with the Survivor Lap, where survivors and people affected by cancer take a lap. They wear purple to recognize all types of cancer, Ochs said.

Falzone was among the first group to walk the track, and crowds lined the track to cheer her and the rest of the survivors on as they walked.

Medical caregivers took their turn next in the Caregiver Lap, followed by everyone else pouring onto the track. Participants continued to fund raise and celebrate throughout the night with games, activities and entertainment.

Later during the night, glow sticks were distributed for people to crack in remembrance of those who have gone through and continue to battle cancer. Bags were sold and decorated that were later lit up during the Luminaria event in a moment of silence.

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is a contributor to The NewsHouse at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.