Relay for Life: spreading cancer awareness on campus

By Hannah Newman

This year marks the 13th anniversary of Relay for Life at Rider, with the cancer research event returning in person for the first time since 2019.

Over 1.6 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year. Around 600,000 Americans will die from it this year, making cancer the second leading cause of death in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Relay for Life is the world’s largest community fundraising event,
giving people the chance to come together and raise money for the American Cancer Society.

The event, which will be held on the Campus Mall on April 12 from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., consists of music, games and live entertainment while participants take laps walking or running around the track. Participants can bring lawn chairs and pitch tents to relax in between activities. This year’s theme is Once Upon a Cure; a Disney theme that allows participants to customize their tents and enter them in a contest for a most spirited award.

Fundraising for this event will take place online or in person. Participants make teams of one or more to raise money, which gives people the chance to partner with their friends and peers.

The Relay for Life executive committee defined Relay for Life as a “love fest” and described this year’s event as “reinventing relay.” The committee explained that this year’s event has been modified to fit more students’ schedules with the hope of increasing participation.

The chair of Relay for Life, junior human resource management major Jenna Muller, discussed the changes to the event.

“I am really excited to be the chair of Relay this year and get the chance to reinvent it as a whole new event outside and just get a lot more involvement than we’ve ever had before,” said Muller.

In prior years, Relay took place indoors and was 12 hours long. The duration of this year’s event has been condensed, and it has been moved outdoors so more people are enticed to participate in supporting this cause.

Relay for Life advisor and graduate student Gabrielle Orszulak ’20 shared her experience being involved in Relay over the years.

“This is my fourth year doing this event, and it is my favorite Rider tradition. I love the event, and I think that it really brings students, community, faculty and staff together for a great cause while having fun and making a difference at the same time,” said Orzulak.

A tradition at Rider’s Relay for Life event is the Luminaria Ceremony, a time where people recognize those who are currently battling cancer, whose lives have been lost and whose lives have been affected by the disease.

With a $10 donation participants can decorate and fill a bag with anything that reminds them of someone in need of recognition.

Those bags will line the track and be lit up while there is a walk in silence. Survivors will take the first lap.
There will also be a dinner for survivors who have a connection to someone at Rider, which will take place before the event. A form will be sent out to students to sign up for the dinner.

Anyone who has questions or would like to perform or host an activity at this year’s event can contact for more information.

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