Annual Relay for Life raises over $84,000



Iona Relay participants take part in a tug-of-war competition, which was one of the many activities that Iona students could participate in during the event.

Alison Robles, Managing Editor

Colleges Against Cancer hosted Relay for Life, an annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, in the Hynes Gymnasium on March 30.


Relay for Life has been on campus for five years, according to CAC President and senior Rebecca Lundgren. Alumna Kaitlin Winteroll was the student who brought Relay to Iona five years ago.


“I wanted to bring an event to Iona that can get the entire school involved,” Winteroll said. “Almost everybody has a connection to cancer and can relate. Even if you don’t have a personal connection, it’s a great event to support your friends who do.”


Clubs and organizations on campus form teams that work to raise money that will go to cancer treatments, patient care and research. A little under $85,000 was raised by the end of this year’s Relay event, according to Lundgren. Lundgren said that Colleges Against Cancer is encouraging continued donation efforts and is planning more fundraisers.


Relay, which lasted from 3 p.m. on March 30 to 3 a.m. on March 31, began with an opening ceremony highlighting a few guest speakers, junior Margaret Baik and sophomore Amanda DelConte, who acted as caregivers to loved ones battling cancer.


Baik, whose mother died from cancer in March 2016, said she feels Relay is a time for the Iona College community to be able to come together.


“We can rejoice and celebrate people’s lives and admire the caregivers and the people going through their diagnosis right now,” Baik said.


Throughout the fundraiser, groups of students walked laps around the gym. According to Baik, this symbolizes standing in solidarity with those battling their diagnosis.


“It’s a 12-hour event, and each team has to have someone walking the track the entire night,” Baik said. “Cancer doesn’t sleep, so neither will we.”


Senior Katrina Flood, a “Bring the People Lead” for CAC, connects directly with team captains participating in Relay to ensure they are meeting their fundraising goals. According to Flood, about 26 clubs and organizations had teams at this year’s Relay.


“Everyone gets to represent a different part of Iona, and I think it just goes to show how we can all come together as a community,” Flood said. “Oftentimes, you hear the word ‘community’ around Iona’s campus, and I think Relay for Life definitely embodies what community means.”


A lot of the teams had a table set up at Relay to represent their club or organization. Teams set up activities, food or drinks at their respective tables and accepted donations for those who wanted to participate or purchase products from their table.


The Edmund Rice Society, a service-oriented organization that assists in running freshman orientation, had temporary tattoos and coffee at their table.


“You definitely need [coffee] if you’re staying up until 3:00 a.m.,” sophomore Alexis Ayrey, a general member of ERS said.


Later in the night, Relay conducts a Luminaria Ceremony, which is a staple in Relay for Life events. At the ceremony, the lights in the gym are turned off and a speaker shares their story to honor a loved one they lost to cancer.


This year, senior Danielle Cavaluzzo spoke about her mother, who passed away from cancer in 2018. After Cavaluzzo spoke, participants walked a silent lap around the track, which was lit by Luminaria bags dedicated to members of the community who have battled cancer. The Iona College Pipe Band played Amazing Grace during the walk.


Martise Carruth, who works in the IT Department at Iona, was at Relay representing the Beta Psi Sigma Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., an organization that has worked with Iona in the past.


Carruth has had family who died from cancer as well as a friend who was diagnosed and recently finished her treatment. For Carruth, awareness is also an important factor in beating the disease.


“It’s [about] getting out there and being able to show forth and know that one day we will have a cure for [cancer],” Carruth said.


For Lundgren, the strength of the Iona community reinforces the importance that Relay for Life has on campus.


“Our event is proof that you don’t need to go to a big university for your Relay to make a difference,” Lundgren said in an email interview. “As a small school and a small event with 530 participants, we make a huge dent in the fight against cancer. We show that no matter how small a community is, uniting to fight together will always make a difference.”