SU’s Relay for Life raises $90,106 for American Cancer Society

SU’s Relay for Life raises $90,106 for American Cancer Society

Published: May 13, 2020
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The air in Manley Field House was buzzing with eagerness. Not for a Syracuse basketball game like it did over 35 years ago. This eagerness was to begin walking.

The venue hosted the 15th annual Syracuse University Relay for Life. Running from 6 p.m. on Friday until 6 a.m. Saturday, Relay for Life aims to raise awareness and donations for the American Cancer Society. The event raised $90,106 for the organization.

Luminaria bags spelt “hope” and “cure” in the bleachers of the Field House. Those phrases are what brought many people, both SU students and locals, into Manley.

“I’ve had grandparents lost from cancer. So I’m walking for them,” said Annette Capellino, a public health senior. “Also for people who will get cancer in the future and need our support now.”

Many people had inspirations similar to Capellino.

“I am representing three people, two that have died in my family and then I have a teacher from my high school who is battling breast cancer right now,” said Francois Eco, a mechanical engineering freshman. “So I’m here to represent them.”

Others wanted to give back to the community. Larry Stansbury, a writing and rhetoric junior, said he had several family members die from cancer. After joining a fraternity, he wanted to do more to help others and thought Relay for Life was one way to do so.

People of many different races and backgrounds were in attendance to fight back against the disease.

“Cancer doesn’t have a preference,” said Ashley Johnson, the community manager for Relay for Life in Syracuse. “It is applicable to people from all walks of life.”

The survivors in attendance were the first ones to complete a lap around the one-sixth of a mile track inside Manley. After that, everyone else joined.

Even those who chose not to walk, or were simply taking a break, had things to do. People were throwing footballs and Frisbees, kicking soccer balls, or just chatting with the friends that were around them. There was a giant Zumba session, as well as numerous games being played. The atmosphere inside Manley resembled a carnival; so much excitement and noise.

When the clock struck 9 p.m. however, the atmosphere changed in an instant. The lights were turned off. Survivors spoke about their battles with the disease. Family members remembered their loved ones, whose battles were over. Luminarias were lit along the perimeter of the track. Then there was silence.

The only thing one could hear in Manley was the buzz of machinery in the building itself. The participants began to walk around the track again. Hands were held, arms were locked. Some people were smiling. Others were in tears. Some walked on their own, others needed their friends for support.

Then the piercing sound of the fire alarm broke the silence. Still, people continued to walk, a poignant reminder that the fight against cancer never stops.

There was no danger, the alarm was eventually turned off, and people continued to walk. As the hour ended, the atmosphere slowly changed back to had it been before. 

As the night wore on, one of the most palpable feelings in the air was pride.

“I think seeing the Syracuse Relay for Life, the title, really gives me pride and joy walking for my school but also for the survivors,” Capellino said. “Knowing that my school supports them with Relay for Life, I feel really good about that.”