The Collegian
Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Relay for Life raises over $34,000

<p>The Intramural fields located outside Gateway Village, where this year's Relay for Life was held.</p>

The Intramural fields located outside Gateway Village, where this year's Relay for Life was held.

The University of Richmond Relay for Life held its annual fundraiser on the intramural fields on April 5, raising nearly $35,000 for the second consecutive year. 

Since its inception in 1985, the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life has become the largest peer-to-peer fundraiser dedicated to fighting cancer in the world. During the event, at least one member of each participating team repeatedly walks laps around a track. The nature of the event derives from Dr. Gordon “Gordy” Klatt, who spent 24 consecutive hours running around a track to raise money for the American Cancer Society, according to its website

This marked Relay’s third year since its return to campus in 2022, spearheaded by its president, senior Kate Amabile, and its faculty advisor, accounting professor Nancy Bagranoff.

“Our community and thousands more across the nation gather together each year because we have hope for a future where cancer never steals another life,” Amabile said during the event’s opening ceremony. “And we know that that’s possible because of the work of the American Cancer Society.” 

The E. Claiborne Robins School of Business has sponsored the event since its revival. The support of the school is essential to the event’s operation, Amabile said.

“Without their support, and without Dean [Mickey] Quiñones’s support, we wouldn’t be able to put on the large-scale event that we do,” she said. “They have believed in us since the beginning of it all.” 

Accounting professor Ashley Austin spoke on behalf of Quiñones, who could not attend the fundraiser.

“It’s through this support that groundbreaking treatments are discovered, treatments like the chemotherapy drugs that were instrumental in my wife Karen’s victory over cancer three years ago,” Austin shared on behalf of Quiñones. “These advancements have not only given her a second chance at life, but have also allowed us to embark on many adventures together, such as running the Paris Marathon this weekend.” 

Food trucks, games and a bouncy house were available to participants as they took breaks from walking. There were also various speakers and performers, including The Sirens, the Richmond Octāves and UR Cheerleading Team. 

First-year Will Sheets was surprised by the fun and supportive atmosphere of the event. 

“Seeing people who were really dedicated to the cause walk for the entire event was certainly the most touching part,”  Sheets said.

Linda Schreiner, an executive in residence at the business school and a cancer survivor, and Penny Armenio, a senior and daughter of a parent who died of cancer, shared their thoughts and experiences at the fundraiser. 

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“Enjoy every breath, it’s a gift,” Schreiner said. “Enjoy this life that we’ve got. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Live lightly, have some fun, and support each other. Because in the end, when somebody tells you that you have cancer,you start to realize how none of this other stuff matters.” 

This year’s event raised just over $34,000 in donations before and during the event. Since its return to campus in 2022, the UR Relay for Life has already raised more than $91,585 for the American Cancer Society. 

“I don’t think any other student organization has come near to the amount of funds that [Relay for Life] has raised,” Bagranoff said. 

The final piece of the event was the Luminaria ceremony. Students could donate money to write the name of a loved one who has battled cancer on a paper lantern. With the lights cut from the field, all the participants gathered in a circle around the Luminarias for a moment of reflection. Student leaders distributed glow sticks for participants to lift when they heard a description of a cancer experience that fit them.

“When you hear the cracking of the glowsticks, look around, and see that everyone has one cracked, it’s very clear why we’re doing what we’re doing because every life has been touched by cancer, unfortunately,” Amabile said. “We’re trying to take strides in changing that trajectory for the future.” 

Contact news writer Brian Clark at brian.clark@richmond.edu.

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