Rider University students camped out in the Student Recreation Center during the weekend of March 26 and 27 for the annual Relay for Life on the Lawrenceville campus.
Andrea Panno ’12

Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back. These were the words that mirrored the actions of students, faculty and staff who stood – and walked – in solidarity against cancer during the weekend of March 26 and 27 at the annual Relay for Life on the on the Lawrenceville Campus.

This year’s Relay for Life – the American Cancer Society’s signature yearly fundraising event – drew more than 1,000 participants and spectators to the Student Recreation Center, where the Rider community combined to raise more than $55,000.

Throughout the course of the overnight event, which began on Saturday at 5 p.m. and lasted until the next morning at 6 a.m., students camped out at their team sites, wearing creative matching T-shirts, and walked continuously around the track, which was lined with luminaria bags representing those who have battled cancer.

A full complement of events not only maintained the energy levels of participants through the night, but continued to build awareness for the cause. Beginning with the opening ceremonies, which included a survivor lap for the Heroes of Hope, the event hit home with many participants from the start. Following the kickoff, Relay-goers then gathered around to watch performances by the Rider Dance Team, Dance Ensemble and other performance groups. Though live music, DJs, free food, and raffles continuing through the night, perhaps the most popular source of entertainment was the third annual Miss Relay Pageant.

“Male participants dressed up in drag to put on a talent show, and whoever collects the most money wins,” explained junior Psychology major Lindsay Galbraith, this year’s Relay for Life coordinator. “This year we raised more than $1,200 and ‘Beverly’, aka senior Scott Phillips, a member of the ‘BRO’ team, learned that the third time is a charm! After coming in second place the past two years, he finally placed first, raising more than $600.”

Much like the rest of Relay for Life, watching the pageant will be hard to forget for audience members. But while lighthearted events like Miss Relay help galvanize the student body through laughter, it is events like the Memorial Lap that strengthen student bonds through tears. 

The Memorial Lap, in which the lights were dimmed for dramatic effect, saw students walk around the track in silence, as they remembered those who have succumbed to cancers.  During this time, students lined up on the track to sign a table banner representing the loneliness, tears, and even hope that cancer brings to people all over the world.

Diseases like cancer can tear people apart, but in the case of Rider’s Relay for Life, it was a cause that brought many people together, according to Galbraith, who said that, “Rider has really caught on to the Relay spirit!”

The Rider University donation web site for the American Cancer Society will remain open for donations until August 2011. To contribute to the University’s running total, please visit relayforlife.org/rideruniversity.