Over $80,000 raised at 8th annual Relay for Life
Published: Monday, April 2, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 2, 2012 20:04
Baruch College hosted its eighth annual Relay for Life fundraising party last Friday night, and once again, the event was a resounding success.
The American Cancer Society, according to former Director of Student Life and current Professor Carl Aylman, originally proposed the Relay for Life to Baruch College’s administrators and students a little over eight years ago.
“The ACS pitched the idea to invite CUNY to get involved,” said Aylman and since he was “already working with Breast Cancer,” it was not that much of a leap for him.
“My wife is a seventeen-year cancer survivor, and luckily we caught the lump on her breast early on enough to get it treated,” said Aylman.
At the event, there was a spirit of conviviality in the air shared by all, despite the seriousness of the cause that was being supported.
Located in the underground physical education complex of the Vertical Campus, there were two gymnasiums and a few racquetball courts open for use by the attendees for various pre-organized activities.
Various clubs had set up booths in and around the main gymnasium, with some simply offering food and refreshments and some offering carnival-styled games such as a wheel of fortune that touted prizes such as “Free Hugs” and “Massage,” along with a fishbowl toss. Another booth was the Polaroid picture booth; there was also a bachelor and bachelorette auction, which was followed by a pie-smashing auction that raised quite a bit more money for the cause.
In the auxiliary gymnasium, a lights-on dance party followed several very lively rounds of dodge ball. In the lower level there was the option to participate in activities such as yoga and other less strenuous activities.
Entertainment for the night included a performance by the non-profit dance troupe called Spirits & Motion who have been performing for various charity and aid organizations for the past 5 years.
The troupe leader, Victor, said he created the group because he “wanted to start a dance program that could not be damaged,” and that could help worthy causes. They had six of their members in attendance for the night dressed to the nines and ready to impress.
In attendance were several hundred students and non-students alike, and at the opening ceremony of the event, it became very obvious that nearly every single person in the room had been personally affected by cancer, whether through personal struggle or through the ailment or loss of loved ones.
“We did a thing at the beginning this year where we asked the attendees if they knew someone with cancer,” said Aylman describing the opening ceremony of the event where people were asked to raise their phones in the air if a particular member of their family had been affected by cancer. “First we asked about fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, and so on, and by the time we were done, almost every cell phone in the room was in the air.”
Outside the event, while suiting up for the heavy rain that most Relay-ers wouldn’t be aware of until about 8 a.m., Justin ‘Chef’ Ramsay of Alpha Phi Delta said, “I’ve actually lost both my mother and my aunt to cancer. First, I lost my aunt to breast cancer, and shortly after that, my mother was diagnosed with appendix cancer. She was able to get the tumor removed, but not before it spread and eventually took her life.”
He went on to add, “The Alpha Phi President, Jeffrey ‘Splinter’ Chiu, when he was helping us to promote, said it well when he told us that every body knows some body that has suffered from [cancer]. The little bit we do makes a difference for someone…and for yourself.”
One of the event coordinators, Kathy Smith had also been touched by cancer in her life, having lost her father at the young age of six years old, which is why she took interest in Relay for Life in the beginning.
“I transferred here a year ago, and before that I had never heard of Relay for Life,” she said. “I heard about a meeting that was being held to talk about it and decided to attend before I knew it was a planning meeting.” Then she grinned and said, “I kind of got roped into it from there.”
She says about Relay for Life that it has “made [her] more okay to talk about it. Basically, everyone is working together here.”
In the seven previous years that the event has taken place at Baruch, just under $500,000 have been raised on behalf of Relay for Life, and this year’s contributions add another $80,000 to that figure.
In the first year, $48,000 was raised, and Aylman remembers being so shocked and pleased by the willingness to donate and participate on the part of the students, faculty, staff and their loved ones that when he got home, he “just started crying.”
Top donors to the cause include the corporate sponsors for the event, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Ridgewood Savings and Loan, each of which donated $2,500. The club that earned the most was USG, raising just over $5000; Carl’s Crew came in second place.