Students and members of the Fairfield community rallied to fight cancer at the 2014 Relay For Life of Fairfield University, bypassing their goal for this year by over $12,000.

“I was only a baby, a mere 10 and a half months old, when my parents were told that I had a cancerous tumor,” freshman Morgan Walton told the audience at the 2014 Relay For Life opening ceremonies in the Michael Birkenstock field house of the Leslie C. Quick Jr. Recreation Complex.

Friday night marked the eighth time Fairfield University has participated in Relay For Life, a national fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Taking place on April 4-5 from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., the event drew more than 500 students and members of the Fairfield community together, raising a total of $62,128.21, bypassing their goal of $50,000.

The event was chaired by juniors Brian Alexander, Kyle Douglas and Kyle Scherer and Cassie Foxx ‘16, who spent the past seven months preparing for the event.

“We do a lot going up to the event but no matter how much work goes into it, it’s all worth it,” said Alexander.

As Walton, a Relay For Life committee member, shared her experience with cancer, recounting radiation and chemotherapy treatments, she admitted that she doesn’t have any recollection of the event.

To kick off the entertainment portion of the event, committee members and various team captains took part in a flash mob. The committee had no problem finding providing entertainment as many bands and organizations sought them out and asked to participate. Alexander said, “Since last year was so successful, people have been asking us to perform. It’s great for the clubs and us.”

Throughout the night various student groups, including Sweet Harmony, the Bensonians, the Dance Ensemble and the Martial Arts Club, performed. Alexander noted that entertainment is an important part in making Relay For Life so successful as it helps keep participants awake throughout the night.

Last year, Relay For Life moved to the RecPlex, having previously been held outdoors. With that move, a record $52,000 was raised, a number that beat the previous record by more than $20,000.

Relay For Life’s motto, “Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back.,” was incorporated into the event. The “celebrate” portion began with a speech from a survivor, chosen by the committee. Walton was surprised to be asked to be the survivor speaker for the opening ceremonies. She said, “As a freshman, I never expected to be asked to have that responsibility, but I’m really glad I did it.”

Following her speech, Walton and other survivors participating in the event walked around the makeshift track as part of the Survivors’ Lap to the legendary song “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor. Walton’s favorite part of the event was the Survivors’ Lap, saying, “[I love] all the support and love you feel when doing the Survivors’ Lap.”

The “remember” section of the event also featured a speech by Campus Minister for Retreats Gregory Vigliotta, who recalled his battle with stage three non-Hodgkin lymphoma at age four. He said, “While other kids my age were getting up in the morning to watch ‘Sesame Street’ or play Legos, I was driving back and forth to Queens for treatment.”

Vigliotta shared with the audience that the treatment he received for the cancer was as detrimental to his health as the cancer itself: “My body could only take so much.”

Ultimately, Vigliotta beat his battle with the cancer, saying, “I have no explanation for how my health improved from this point.” Vigliotta added that he has been cancer free since completing his treatment in 1991.

Following his speech, luminaria bags decorated in memory or in honor of those impacted by cancer were lit, and all participants walked around the track as names of those who lost their battle were read.

The last part of the event was the “fight back” section, which meant to inspire participants to take action against the disease, featured comedian and magician Daniel Martin, and two Zumba lessons from Erin Gallagher ‘17, as well as many on-campus bands. Although the crowd slowly thinned out throughout the night, many participants stayed until the 6 a.m. ending ceremonies. As Alexander announced to the crowd during the opening ceremonies, “Cancer never sleeps and tonight, neither will we.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.