The Fieldhouse of the Leslie C. Quick Jr. Recreation Complex was full of life on Friday, March 29 for Fairfield University’s annual Relay For Life, the fundraising event of the American Cancer Society. The Fieldhouse was packed with tables for every team with games, food and fun surprises for attendees to keep them occupied and entertained for a long night of raising money and awareness for cancer.

“It was just something I was really involved with in high school,” said Lily Rancatore ‘21, one of eight co-presidents of Fairfield University’s Relay For Life Club. “And I really wanted to continue to be involved in college. What I love about Relay is that it forms a community because everyone’s been impacted by cancer in some way, and it gives these people the opportunity to talk about their stories and walk all night to raise money for a great cause.”

Attendees included Lucas the Stag and Bailey, the Campus Ministry therapy dog at a “Kissing Booth” accompanied by Kathleen Byrnes, campus minister for social justice and community engagement. The Bensonians performed to kick off the evening, and other performers followed throughout the night. At 10 p.m., there was a ceremony to commemorate those lost to cancer in which the lights were turned off and participants lit the room with glow sticks.

The event was carnival-themed, with many activities that aligned with that theme. “Last year, our theme wasn’t evident upon walking into the RecPlex, but this year I think everyone at the event could tell we had transformed the gym with games and decorations,” said Rancatore. “I also think our schedule was more stacked, with popcorn and cotton candy, carnival games, hula hoopers, along with a hypnotist and contortionist later in the night.”

In the middle of the room, safe from the determined walkers around the track, there were games of bean bag toss and spike ball. In one corner was a bouncy house, and a photo-booth in another.

“When there was an event focused on cancer, we knew we wanted to be a part of it,” said Grace Cannon ‘20, public relations and media coordinator for the Love Your Melon club on campus. Love Your Melon is a company that sells hats and other products to raise money for cancer. “I think we all pretty much know someone who’s been affected by cancer, whether it’s someone here from Fairfield or someone from their family,” continued Cannon. “Working with other people who have also been affected can be really encouraging and create kind of a camaraderie that’s very unique.”

At the Love Your Melon table, participants could guess how many gummy watermelons were in a jar. At another table for The Point Magazine, the club organizers had set up a cupcake decorating station.

“We’re a new club on campus, and we always do Relay For Life anyway so we wanted to do it as a new club at Fairfield, and show our support for Relay,” said Liza Rozenberg ‘20, co-creative director of The Point Magazine.

Rancatore considered this year’s Relay For Life “a success,” having raised “just under $40,000.” But Fairfield’s Relay For Life club doesn’t plan on resting upon their laurels. “My hope for future years is to increase attendancewe always have a great turnout, but I would love to have more people stay throughout the entire night…. I can’t wait to keep working with my fellow Co-Presidents to plan another amazing events in years to come!”

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