The 11th annual Relay For Life event, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, will be held in the Alumni Sports and Recreation Center (Armory) April 29-30 from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. Relay For Life is a community event that celebrates the lives of cancer survivors and remembers those who have lost their battle with the devastating disease. This year, committee members have selected a World Games theme in honor of the upcoming 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Colleges Against Cancer (CAC), a Rensselaer Union student organization, is coordinating the event this year along with support from members of the Rensselaer campus community—including Greek Life, student-athletes, student clubs, faculty, staff, and others. The organization is part of a nationwide collaboration of college students, faculty, and staff dedicated to eliminating cancer by working to implement the programs and mission of the American Cancer Society.
Committee members are devoted to planning activities, entertainment, and the engagement of the Rensselaer community. This year, Keara Traylor and Torrie DeGennaro, seniors majoring in biomedical engineering, will serve as event co-chairs. The committee hopes to reach a cumulative goal of raising $1 million since the event’s inception. To date, more than 40 teams have joined forces this year to raise more than $11,000 (and counting) for cancer research. Participating teams will walk or run laps around the Armory track in an effort to increase cancer awareness, raise funds, and celebrate survivorship. The group is $50,000 away from reaching their $1 million goal.
The opening ceremony will begin on Friday, April 29, at 5 p.m. and feature remarks from members of the Rensselaer campus and local community. Following remarks, cancer survivors from the Rensselaer community will kick off the Relay For Life event, leading the first lap around the Armory track. The caregivers’ lap will follow. The lap celebrates family members, friends, and all those who have been involved in the care of individuals diagnosed with cancer.
The Luminaria ceremony will take place at 9 p.m. The ceremony is a candlelight vigil in honor of family and friends who have faced cancer. Illuminated white decorated bags will line the track as a poem of remembrance is read, followed by a moment of silence. Additional event highlights include Rensselaer and local student bands, singing groups, dance teams, DJs, games, themed laps, and more.
According to the American Cancer Society, each year more than one million people receive a cancer diagnosis. According to the organization, the risk of developing many types of cancer can be reduced by changes in a person’s lifestyle, for example, by staying away from tobacco, limiting time in the sun, being physically active, and eating healthy foods.
Since the event’s inception, residents in the Capital Region have been able to reap the rewards of the Relay For Life efforts. For example, last year, more than 2,100 rides were given to cancer patients to and from their treatment appointments; 620 free wigs were given to women; and more than 3,300 local individuals looked to the area American Cancer Society for information about diagnosis, treatment, support services, financial assistance, and other services.
Additional highlights include: a program that enabled more than 200 women to attend a “Look Good, Feel Better” session to address the cosmetic effects after treatment; 450 personal health managers were assigned to newly diagnosed individuals; and patient navigators in 12 treatment locations continue to provide one-on-one support and information to patients and loved ones. The American Cancer Society has also been working with local health-care systems and colleges and universities in New York and New Jersey to establish 100 percent smoke-free campuses. Current Capital Region campuses include Rensselaer, Hudson Valley Community College, Siena College, The Sage Colleges, College of Saint Rose, Maria College, and Albany Medical College.
Funds raised have also supported the Hope Club, which has provided social and emotional support to more than 1,200 adults and children, while the Hope Lodges in New York City, Buffalo, and Rochester have provided more than 29,000 nights of free lodging to cancer patients and their families.