Sophomore Perspective: Cherishing lives at Relay For Life

On April 6-7, students participated in Relay for Life in support of the American Cancer Society in the Student Recreation Center. Survivors, supporters and fighters banded together to raise money for the important cause. Although the night lasted eight hours, students stayed around and stuck it out. It may have seemed difficult to do at first, but with the help of friends, they were able to stay awake and active.
Since it was my first year participating in Relay for Life, I did not know what to expect. It was truly amazing to help raise money for an inspirational organization with my friends of Alpha Phi Omega. Hearing the story of a survivor and stories of those whose families have experienced cancer was a tearjerker. Almost every Rider student knows of someone who has survived or fallen to cancer. The real-life stories brought back some emotions that may have been dormant for quite some time. It is unfortunate that so many people have had to fight such a painful and exhausting battle.
The luminaria ceremony was especially difficult for me because my grandfather passed away two years ago from stage-four lung cancer. Since I was close to my Pop-Pop, it was upsetting to see him go in such a painful way. I relayed on the night of April 6 to celebrate his life and all that he did for me. His passion and love for life never ceased to make me smile. As we walked up the steps and around the track, my friends and I held onto each other as we released our emotions. I felt the constant support all around as people walked to remember. At the end of the track, each student was able to write a short note about a loved one who has experienced, died from or is fighting cancer; each note was then placed on the wall in memory.
After the ceremony, male students participated in the Miss Relay event to raise money and provide comic relief. The routines each student created were hilarious and enjoyable to watch. Matthew Hillman, a fellow member of Alpha Phi Omega, and Tyler O’Neill ultimately won the competition and helped raise more than $400 for the American Cancer Society. Other events included Zumba, limbo and Bronc Bingo.
Throughout the night, clubs and teams walked around the SRC track as well. By splitting up into groups, each team had members walking at all times. It was a fun way of exercising and showing support, while also helping students to stay awake throughout the entire event. My friends and I walked for over an hour altogether and we found it enjoyable. Each time we went up to the track, we found a new way to have even more fun. My friends and I sang along to the songs played and even danced as we walked. Other members of my team threw a football around while walking as well. It was always fun because it was an easy way to stay awake throughout the night.
My first Relay for Life experience was truly an amazing one, and I plan to participate until I graduate. It was fun and rewarding to give back and work together with fellow Rider students and friends. Everyone walked away knowing that they made a difference by supporting the fight against cancer.
-Erin Wallace
Sophomore English major

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