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Record-breaking Relay for Life at St. John’s

St. John’s University’s seventh annual Relay for Life — a walk-a-thon to raise funds for cancer research –broke the school’s previous records for donations and participation.

This year’s Relay collected a grand total of $79,280, “the most ever in St. John’s history,” Mary Pelkowski, associate dean of student engagement, said, adding that 1,462 students and 118 teams attended, making it the most successful Relay ever in the school’s history.

“It’s inspiring I think, given the current economic challenges right now, and [because] students don’t make any money, but they gave $20 or $25 anyway,” said Rosa Yen, associate director of multicultural affairs and survivor of colon cancer. “I feel so blessed and proud to be a member of the St. John’s community.”

The total donation, which will be given to the American Cancer Society (ACS), beat the school’s goal of $75,000.

“If we keep doing this every year, I feel like we’ll find a cure,” said junior Dominique Scott.

The Relay started on the night of Friday, April 16 and ended the next morning. It began with an opening ceremony, highlighted by a speech from Caroline Fuchs, an associate professor, who became cancer free last December.

“I am Caroline Fuchs and I am a cancer survivor,” she began, before being interrupted by an uproar from the crowd of students, faculty and supports.
Then there was a luminary celebration, in which students held lights above their heads in memory of victims that have passed, followed by a survivor lap.
With a “ready, set, go, relay,” St. John’s University’s seventh annual Relay for Life kicked off.

With music blasting, students talked with each other, played football, board games or just danced, each having his own reasons for attending.
“I came in memory of my grandma, who died from lung cancer,” said sophomore Kaela Landon. “I never got a chance to meet her.”

Because of the humongous support from this year’s Relay, some are already promising a larger donation next year.

“It’s all about progression,” said Student Government, Inc. president Christian Williams, who lost his grandmother from cancer in 2004. “What [this Relay] has done is nothing short of amazing. Relay for Life 2013, watch out. We’ll be bigger than ever.”

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