Kean hosts first annual Relay for Life

By Andrea Parr


A test, a beat, a dash, with these three words Lindsay Zaccardi captivated the room at Kean University’s first Relay for Life on Oct. 7.

Relay for Life participant Kayla Lott.
Photo credit: Andrea Parr

Attending as a cancer survivor, Zaccardi, a junior at Kean, gave one of the opening speeches on living with cancer, the importance of friends and family and her three life motivators.

The first, a test, was taught to her by a friend. At night when you lie down and rest your head on your pillow, take a moment to reflect on all the good things that have happened to you, she said.

The second, a beat, refers to the beat of your heart.  As Zaccardi described, your heart is your battery and as long as you can feel its beat, no matter how bad the day, you are still here.

“You’re alive and your battery is still going,” said Zaccardi, who is majoring in Communication and hopes to become a motivational speaker.

The third and final, a dash, first came to her while thinking about what you see when looking at a gravestone. Every gravestone features three things, a name, a birthdate, and the date of death. Zaccardi started to think about what comes between those two dates, the dash. That little mark signifies everything in between, all the good and bad times in a person’s life.

“Make your dash worth it,” said Zaccardi. “Smile as big as the sun, laugh as loud as fireworks.”

Reflecting on her life since getting cancer, Zaccardi spoke of the shared experiences of her family and friends. With all her friends in attendance, she described them as being family after all they have gone through with her.

Lindsay Zaccardi giving her speech.
Photo credit: Andrea Parr

“You feel like your family is going through it too,” Zaccardi said. “Everyone is affected.”

The idea to bring Relay for Life to Kean first came about a year ago by Kayla Lott, a 2012 Kean graduate. As a member of the Graduate and Part-time Student Council (GPSC), Lott picked Relay for Life as her one major project of the year.

“I would always see students going to other schools and I thought ‘why can’t we have one?’” said Lott. “I wanted one too.” As a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Lott knew of at least one girl being affected by cancer every year.

Working with the GPSC and the Student Organization (SO) a team was put together to bring Relay for Life to the Kean campus. Initially, the group planned to host the event in April; however the process took longer than expected. Lott and the original team graduated in May, but the new members of SO and GPSC continued on their work to complete the project.

SO hopes that the event will continue as an annual occurrence at Kean. This year more than 200 participants preregistered in 49 teams, with more joining the day of the event. Despite the rain, the atmosphere was high in Harwood Arena. With games, crafts, a DJ and dancing, there was plenty to do even when taking a break from walking.

“To comeback a year later and see this vision come together, it’s pretty great,” said Lott on attending and speaking at Relay for Life as a Kean alumnus.

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