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Cancer Society fundraiser draws broad support

By : Katie Ellis

With just a few weeks to go before the event, more than 100 teams have signed up to participate in Binghamton University’s second-annual Relay for Life in support of the American Cancer Society (ACS). And that number, already eclipsing last year’s 82 teams, is growing.

The relay, scheduled from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Friday, March 24, to Saturday, March 25, will be held in the Events Center. Organizers, who had an original goal of 100 teams, are now focused on creating as large an event as possible. Last year’s relay raised about $75,000, and organizers hope to bring in more than $100,000 this year from teams of students, faculty and staff.

Jacqui Tomo and Jenna Sykoff, both sophomores from Long Island, are cochairing the team recruitment and publicity committee. Both participated in the event last year and were touched by the emotion of the luminaria ceremony. This year they wanted to do more. “Everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer,” Tomo said. “Last year’s luminaria ceremony really did it for me. I remember during the ceremony I wanted to be a bigger part of the relay.”

This year’s luminaria ceremony, when lighted candles are placed around the track in honor of survivors and those lost to cancer, will be at 11 p.m.

“It (cancer) has become so prominent in our lives and I feel the relay is an avenue I can take to do something about it, even on a small scale,” Sykoff said.

Though only in its second year, Binghamton’s relay sets a high standard, said Hiliary Humble, ACS liaison. Binghamton is in a category with 11 colleges, including the University at Albany, Cornell and Syracuse. Each week, Humble receives an e-mail tallying how much has been received in online donations for each school.

“Binghamton has always been in first place,” she said. “When ACS staff came to last year’s relay, they were floored by the energy. Basically, Binghamton has so much hype and momentum and the Events Center is such a great location. For Binghamton to already have $40,000 (as of March 3) in online donations is amazing.”

Sykoff said organizers don’t want people to think the event is a marathon.

“The track is more of a symbolic thing,” she said. “If you’re not on the track at some point, that’s OK, and you’re not obligated to stay the entire time. You don’t have to run, either, and there are lots of activities to keep people involved.”

Activities lined up for this year include another SA Spectacular with entertainment, as well as a Miss Relay Contest, a toilet paper fashion show, a hula hoop contest, a poker tournament and karaoke.

Jessica Zulawski, a freshman from Rochester, has been a member of the team recruitment and publicity committee since last October, putting up fliers, sending out e-mails and going to meetings to promote the relay.

Her wish is for the entire campus community to become involved. “I think everyone has the perception it’s just a student thing, but it’s not,” she said. “I wish more faculty and staff would be involved.”

Humble and the students also want to make sure people know the relay is much more than people walking around a track. It’s about honoring survivors. “This is why these kids are doing it,” Humble said. “If you are a survivor or have a close friend or family member who is a survivor, please encourage them to attend the relay and be honored. There’s a survivors’ reception and a survivors’ lap.”

“We just want to make this so much better than anyone imagined,” Sykoff said. “We want everyone to come out of the relay thinking, ‘Wow! That was a really great event!’”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08