Rain or shine, Relay for Life at Kean

By Alexandria Addesso

Wheel barrel contest.
Photo credit: Alexandria Addesso

Rain wasn’t an issue for the runners competing in Kean’s Relay for Life to benefit the American Cancer Society on Sunday, Oct. 7.

Although the marathon event didn’t take place at Alumni Stadium Track where it was originally planned, it had just as big of a turn-out at the Harwood Arena, despite its early commencement.

“Eight a.m. on Sunday morning is a great feat for college students,” said Devshree Khachane, a member of the event committee, “[Kean] students have so much passion for what we do.”

The main relay event, which featured teams of members of the Kean University community, went from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. with no less than one member of each team running, jogging, or walking at all times, according to the rules. Each team must fundraise prior to the event, the official Relay for Life website suggests bake sales, homemade crafts, and donation cards.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Jessica Halasz, a graduate student participating as part of the Graduate Honors Society’s team. “Time goes a lot faster than I thought it would.”

Luminarias to honor those lost to cancer.
Photo credit: Alexandria Addesso

Halasz had been there for the duration of the event and was personally affected by cancer through the loss of her grandfather in 2011.

Happening simultaneously were smaller contests such as hula-hooping, leap frog and wheel barrow races, as well as a free-throw competition all hosted by Kayla Lott, one of the two main organizers of the event as well as the reason it was taking place at Kean.

Lott and Mindy Bandeira, the other main organizer, were both members of the Graduate and Part-time Student Council, which co-ran the event with Student Organization, before they graduated last May. Lott chose Relay for Life as a council project in 2010 and has been working on organizing it since then.

“Cancer is something that doesn’t discriminate,” said Lott. “We wanted to do something huge on campus. I‘m happy how it turned out, I spent the whole summer working on it.”

Said Bandeira: “We raised over $10,000 for the American Cancer Society today.”

Relay for life participant Jessica Halasz.
Photo credit: Alexandria Addesso

Aside from the multiple competitions taking place, there were also tables of food, refreshments and other activities sponsored by Greek Life, Student Organization and other groups of the Kean community.

One of the tables ran by the Writing Center featured a word wall that charged 25 cents to put up a sticky note of your thoughts.

“Relay for Life is about fighting cancer and celebrating those going through it,” said Lynn Philippe, a junior at Kean as well as a tutor at the Writing Center.

At 8 p.m., after the relay had ended, the organizers began the lighting of the luminarias, which are small paper bags with candles inside. The whole day luminarias lined the gym floor along the path those taking part in the relay ran or walked. Each luminaria was inscribed with the names of those who had lost the fight with cancer that were part of the Kean community or loved ones of those participating.

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