Being college students, cancer is one of the few things in our lives that does not cast judgements. It does not care how old you are, how healthy you are, what you wear, what career you decide on or where you’re from. Cancer does not sleep. These sentiments were echoed by one of the chairs of the Relay team, Elizabeth Sheeran ’17.
Similarly, this past weekend, over 500 Fairfield University students did not sleep either.
On Friday, April 7, Fairfield University kicked off the 11th annual Relay for Life, a 12-hour event that raises money for the American Cancer Society, according to the chair members of the Relay for Life Fairfield chapter.
Students gathered in the University’s Leslie C. Quick, Jr. Recreation Complex to support and raise money for cancer research and patient support.
Those participating had a range of activities to choose from. The University’s musical groups the Bensonians and Sweet Harmony kicked off the night with individual performances, as well as the music group Lords Chords who performed during the luminaria, a ceremony involving writing the names of those who have battled, are battling or have lost a battle with cancer on a candlelit bag. Many other activities, such as a showing of “The Fault in our Stars,” comedians and dancing games, allowed for the students to keep up their energy during the 12-hour function.
According to Sheeran, it took about eight months to prepare for this year’s event.
“The fact that we can put on an event at the school that can make a difference in someone’s life, to me, makes all the emails, meetings, phone calls and frustration so worth it in the end,” said Sheeran.
Sheeran also mentioned that the event was made possible with generous donations from the event’s performers, local businesses and the University, specifically the food provided by Sodexo.
Sheeran decided to join the Relay team to support the American Cancer Society’s mission.
“This is a chance for us to acknowledge and come to terms with the fact that the world we live in truly isn’t fair, but there is something we can do to help,” said Sheeran.
Newcomer to the event, Silvana Cardona ‘20, credits the success of Relay for Life to all of the students who gathered to fight for a common ground.
“I was overwhelmed by the amount of people who joined Relay on Friday. It was amazing to see the support system that we have here at Fairfield and I hope to see that grow little by little each year,” said Cardona.
According to the chairs of the event, Relay for Life first started at Fairfield in 2007, with only a little over 100 registered participants. So far, with over 500 students who attended the event, the final tally of money raised from this past Friday night is over $53,000 dollars, about 5,000 more than last year’s total amount of $48,000. According to the Relay team, their goal this year was to raise $60,000. However, the amount of donations raised so far is subject to increase with more online donations being accepted until August 31.
For many of those involved and in attendance at the event, it was a very profound experience to come together for a common cause.
“I’m part of the group Lord’s Chords that sang during the reflective walk and luminaria ceremony. It was really overwhelming and emotional to see everyone so supportive of each other,” said Katherine Barber ‘19.
“We were all hugging and crying together on stage and then you look at everyone walking and they’re all crying and supporting each other too,” Barber continued.
No one asks for cancer, no one wants it or wants to have to fight it.
Because of this, many of those in attendance, including Sheeran, found it easy to give up one night of sleep. “We can all give up one night, 12 hours, to stand by a survivor, a caregiver, someone currently battling, someone affected or to stand in remembrance for someone we may have lost, and fight back,” said Sheeran.