UAlbany Students Raise More Than $67,000
to Fight Cancer

View a Relay For Life video created by Albany Student Television >>

By Cindi Schmalz (March 21, 2007)

Relay for Life Students

From left, University at Albany students Rebecca Whiteley, John Lowery, Tracy Levine and Jay Kondrup support the fight against cancer in the Relay For Life March 24-25 at the SEFCU Arena. (Photo by Mark Schmidt.) 

To support the fight against cancer, University at Albany students are rallying for the Relay For Life March 24-25 at SEFCU Arena.

Donations raised by students topped $67,000 in the days leading up to March 24, reflecting the energy and enthusiasm of the student teams involved. They say their efforts are inspired by family, friends, and students like Jacqueline Burton.

Burton, 22, of Ballston Spa, planned to graduate this summer from UAlbany with a degree in urban planning and Spanish. Her plans were put on hold when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. She withdrew for the semester for six months of chemotherapy, and plans on returning to UAlbany next year to finish her degree.

To help raise money for Burton and to raise awareness about Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a group of her friends formed a team, "Jackie's Warriors," and will be walking in this year's Relay For Life. Team members include: Leader Erin Minch, Ian Pickus, Maureen Duffy, Mark Bryan and Charlie Charbonneau.

Sophomore John Lowery recently lost his cousin Anthony Celestino to cancer. Lowery will be walking in memory of his cousin at this year's Relay For Life, which starts at 1 p.m. March 24 and ends with closing ceremonies at 5:30 a.m. March 25. Lowery has looked to his family and friends to help raise money for cancer awareness. His cousin Michelle, Celestino's sister, and her husband Anthony, donated $10,000. They made a deal with Lowery: if he could raise $10,000 before Dec. 17, they would match it up to $10,000. Lowery's team alone has raised over $30,000. He said, "Tons of people have donated both on and offline and it's truly amazing how much we have raised. I am grateful that I have had so much support from my family."

Rebecca Whiteley, a senior, also involved family and friends to help raise money. Describing the Relay For Life event itself, Whiteley said, "The whole night is great overall. No sleep, lots of bonding with people, and tons of fun." Tracy Levine, a senior, involved the Student Association, helping them to raise more than $2,000 for the American Cancer Society. As program director, she organized a comedy show on March 3, in which all proceeds went to Relay For Life.

While the event is organized around participants walking laps around the track at the SEFCU Arena, much more takes place. Serendipity and the Earthtones are scheduled to perform, and games like musical chairs and lip synching competitions will help to keep participants entertained and awake.

At the end of the night, a team spirit award will be given to the most enthusiastic team. There is a Survivor's Ceremony at 5 p.m., followed by the Ceremony of Hope at 9 p.m. During the Ceremony of Hope, luminarias are placed around the track and all lights are turned off. Participants walk a silent lap in memory of those who have lost the battle with cancer, to support those who are fighting cancer, and to celebrate those who have fought cancer and won. "It is a silent and very moving lap," said Jay Kondrup, a sophomore who organized a variety of fund-raising events to involve students.

Brainstorming for this year's Relay For Life started almost immediately after last year's event. Students at Albany Against Cancer (SAAC) surveyed last year's participants to see if any improvements should be made. Preliminary meetings began last September. Ninety teams have signed up so far this year, 10 more than last year. Kondrup is confident that even more teams will sign up. He said, "There is huge support from the students and this year is looking to be the biggest yet." Online registration ends March 23, but continues in person at the event.

For more information about Relay For Life, to make a donation and to get involved, e-mail or visit the UAlbany's Students at Albany Against Cancer website. To participate in the Relay for Life register online.

Editor's Note: Cindi Schmalz, a UAlbany senior, is an intern in the Office of Media and Marketing.

Related Links:

View Relay For Life video by Albany Student Television >>
Students at Albany Against Cancer >>
Register for Relay for Life >>


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