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By Felicia Krieg
SUNY Plattsburgh students have raised $55,000 so far for the American Cancer Society as part of this year’s Relay for Life—and more is on the way.
Almost 1,000 students along with some faculty, staff and community members attended Relay for Life, which is in its tenth year at Plattsburgh.
It ran from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 8 at the Field House, with 56 teams participating.
Each year, Relay for Life is the largest student-run event at SUNY Plattsburgh. It is sponsored by the student club Colleges Against Cancer.
Laura Rosenbrock, Colleges Against Cancer’s staff advisor, expects to see another $5,000 in donations over the next few months before fundraising officially ends for the event at the end of the summer.
“We’ll hit our goal by August,” Rosenbrock said.
Relay for Life co-chairs Amy Sheldon and Stephanie Waldron, both seniors, co-organized the event. The two grew up in Hyde Park, N.Y., across the street from each other and were good friends, but they lost touch when Waldron moved to another town.
They reconnected at a Colleges Against Cancer meeting.
“It was kind of cool to come back together,” Sheldon said.
“It’s a chance for everyone to get together and raise money for a good cause while still having a good time.”
The Relay for Life cause is personal for both students. In May 2015, Waldron’s father was diagnosed with cancer. Her uncle also suffered from cancer. Sheldon lost her grandfather to the disease.
They and others honored those lost to cancer during the night’s “Remember Ceremony.” The lights were dimmed and the Field House was illuminated by luminaria lanterns that lined the indoor track. Despite the hundreds of students present, the room was silent as participants reflected.
Students who had lost a loved one to cancer were invited on stage to say the person’s name and birthday. The theme this year was “celebrate more birthdays.”
“That was very powerful,” Sheldon said.
For many, the ceremony of remembrance is an emotional experience.
“There’s a lot of crying,” Sheldon said.
But the tone of the night wasn’t all somber—it was mostly fun.
“It’s a chance for everyone to get together and raise money for a good cause while still having a good time,” Waldron said.
The schedule of events included a scavenger hunt, performances by Dance Corps and Kickline, relay races and slacklining.
Most of the money raised is collected in advance of the event, but mini fundraisers like a photo booth and gift basket raffles set up at Relay for Life and same-night registration fees brought in about $5,000.
As co-chairs of Relay for Life, Sheldon and Waldron showed true leadership, Rosenbrock said.
“They achieved all the goals they were trying to accomplish—not just financially.”
The two students worked to meet Student Association regulations; arrange for equipment, entertainment and food for the event; help teams register and give guidance to the Relay for Life subcommittees, among other duties.
“They did such a great job,” Rosenbrock said. “I’m very proud of them.”
While Colleges Against Cancer’s largest event of the year has passed, their work isn’t over. Sheldon, Waldron and other Colleges Against Cancer members are also traveling during the semester to the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge in Burlington, Vt., to cook a meal for cancer patients and their families.
The Hope Lodge offers free temporary housing for cancer patients who are undergoing treatment and their families.
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