By Tom Ballard Opinions Editor
The College’s Recreation Center was flooded with a sea of purple during Colleges Against Cancer’s (CAC) annual Relay for Life event held on Friday, April 15.
The 12-hour long event, which lasted from 6 p.m. on Friday to 6 a.m. the following morning, raised a total of $97,000.81 for the American Cancer Society (ACS), according to CAC.
“I feel that the event went extremely well this year,” junior biomedical engineering major Ananya Sen, one of CAC’s co-presidents, said. “We raised over $20,000 past our goal… (and) we are thoroughly content with how relatively smooth the night went (and) the wonderful cooperation and help from the participants and co-sponsors, and the great entertainment throughout the night.”
According to the event’s Website, 54 teams and more than 1,600 participants took part in this year’s Relay for Life. Team members walked around the makeshift track on the lower-level of the Recreation Center in order to raise additional funds from sponsors. In addition to walking laps, many teams also set up tables in the middle of the Recreation Center to sell snacks and other treats in order to put more toward their team’s fundraising amount. Throughout the night, students were entertained with tailgating games, live music, dance performances and even a beauty pageant.
Sigma Pi fraternity raised the most money out of all the teams that participated, according to the event’s Website. Sigma Pi raised $12,298.91, followed by Delta Tau Delta fraternity, which raised $9,532, and Sigma Kappa sorority, which raised $8,175.
Junior psychology major and Phi Sigma Sigma sorority member Lauren Plawker raised $2,539.65 for the event alone and was the top individual fundraiser.
“I began fundraising for (ACS) after losing my grandfather, Ilan Plawker, to a rare form of lymphoma,” Plawker said. “I decided that as a student and a proud granddaughter, it was my responsibility to give back in memory of this man who had given so much to supporting the education of his grandchildren… This year, I also relayed in honor of my Grandma RoRo, who I am proud to say is now two years cancer-free.”
Plawker said it is important for students from all organizations at the College, not just Greek ones, to participate in Relay for Life so that the event can be as successful as possible.
One of the College’s non-Greek organizations that took part in the event was TCNJ Musical Theater (TMT).
“We come out because we don’t do a lot of philanthropy, and we also perform at the event,” said Sarah Reynolds, TMT’s team captain and a sophomore English and secondary education dual major. “We (did) very well (fundraising). A lot of our members are in Greek life and a lot of people have been coming (to support us).”
Many of the College’s social and business Greek organizations were at the event to raise support, as well.
“We have a very strong connection to philanthropy,” junior biomedical engineering major and Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity member AJ Mercuri said. “It’s our organization’s thing to bring out a large number of people (to these sort of events).”
Delta Sigma Pi (DSP), one of the College’s business fraternities, also took part in Relay for Life this year.
“It’s a great opportunity to help out the ACS and the more people we can get involved, the better,” sophomore accounting major and DSP team captain Jenny Ellenbacher said. “The College’s campus is just great to get involved with.”
According to Sen, money fundraised at this year’s event will go toward funding cancer research, as well as providing lodging and transportation for patients and their families close to cancer treatment facilities. It will also go toward educating and helping women regain confidence and improve their self-image following their battles with cancer.
“Nearly every student has been impacted by cancer,” Sen said, “Whether they were a survivor themselves or had a close friend or relative battle cancer, (this) cause touches everyone in some shape or form.”
CAC raises awareness for different kinds of cancers throughout the year. In the past, CAC has sold gold shoelaces to support pediatric cancer, held a Pink Carnival in support of breast cancer, hosted the Great American Smokeout to raise awareness of lung cancer and sponsored Paint the Campus Purple Week to raise awareness and funds for Relay for Life, according to Sen.
Many members of CAC expressed a personal connection to raising awareness about cancer.
“I was motivated to join CAC and take part in Relay for Life because cancer has had a major impact in my family’s life since I can remember,” said Dana Tedesco, co-President of CAC and a junior biology major. “My sister is a two-time leukemia survivor and my mom is a breast cancer survivor… I relay so there can be a future free of cancer.”
Many Relay for Life team members expressed a personal link to cancer, which motivates them to participate in the event year after year.
“My mom had breast cancer and is in remission and she has recovered,” Mercurio said. “I think that (Relay for Life) is a little personal for each of us.”