On Friday, more than 450 students and community members occupied Endicott’s Post Center to take part in Endicott College’s 14th annual Relay For Life event. From 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. the following day, individuals came together to honor and celebrate those whose lives have been impacted by cancer.
Music permeated the field house. Emotions—from happy tears to sorrow smiles—were shared amongst walkers. People called out to one another while playing games in the center of the track.
All proceeds raised from the community-based event went to the American Cancer Society to fund cancer research and other supportive services for those affected by the disease.
Nate Solder, two-time Super Bowl champion, was one of the many who participated. During the Opening Ceremony, Solder shared an inspirational message and put the disease into perspective for the crowd, saying “One lesson I’ve learned is we can’t be our own saviors, we need each other, we need something greater than ourselves to depend on.” As a survivor himself, Solder later attended the Survivor’s Dinner held on site with his family. His son, who is fighting his own battle with the disease was by his side.
Alyssa Bellino ’18, a nursing student and co-chair of the Relay For Life Committee at Endicott, has participated in the event during all four years of college. When asked why she relays, Bellino said, “I relay now for multiple family members, especially, my two grams who were diagnosed and passed away from cancer all while I've been in college. I also relay for my many pediatric friends from Why Me in Worcester, Mass. and patients who have had or beat cancer.”
Grace Leonard ’18, head co-chair of the event’s committee and elementary education student, said that she relays, “to create a world without cancer.” She shared, “I relay for all those affected by cancer. I relay for my grandpa and grandma who both passed away from cancer, as well as my best friend’s mother. I also relay for my neighbor, who is a close family friend, who was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma when he was only in second grade. I relay for all my future students that will encounter this terrible disease in one way or another.”
The event, open to all community members, raised a total of $48,958. Bellino is happy to help lift the burden—in small or big ways—for people dealing with this disease, “The patients need to focus on beating cancer and I hope that our money can take away some of the financial burden that comes with the disease. After seeing my family as well as other families go through so much stress while taking care of a cancer patient, the most rewarding thing is knowing that some stress will be taken away.”
Leonard had a message to share for cancer patients and those affected by the disease, “I want them to know they are cared for and supported. They may not know, but someone is always looking out for them.” She said that, “giving is one of the most valuable things someone can do.”
To support the cause, visit relayforlife.org/endicott. Donations will be accepted until August 2018.