Relay Race Helps Profs Fight Cancer

More than 1,100 participants raised $150,200 for cancer survivors and cancer research Friday night, in the third annual Relay for Life at Harvard’s Gordon Track.

The twelve-hour event, attended by students, faculty, and relatives from eight area colleges is part of the American Cancer Society (ACS)’s largest and most successful national fundraising campaign to date.

The event raises money for cancer research, much of which goes to Harvard professors in the field. The relay is also meant to raise awareness.

“Fundraising is a big part of Relay, but it’s also about celebrating hope,” Joseph M. Hanzich ’06, wrote in an e-mail.

Live bands, a DJ, free massages, “root beer Beirut,” raffles, and card games were some of the other activities taking place as the relay continued from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Saturday.

Teams were composed primarily of eight to 15 people and many were organized by sororities, fraternities, blocking groups, and groups of friends.

“It’s nice to see all of our hard work validated,” Sigma Alpha Epsilon Philanthropy Chair Justin A. Monticello ’09 said. He added that his fraternity placed eighth in the Boston area, raising more than $3,400.

Harvard organized the event with Boston College and Boston University and put forth 30 of the 120 teams. MIT, Simmons, Emerson, and Wellesley were also represented by teams at the relay.

While Relay for Life takes place at different venues all over the country, the Cambridge area relay at Gordon Track is one of the ten largest college relays, Co-Director of the Harvard Relay, Hanzich said.

Each team was responsible for raising at least $100 per person which some teams chose to do by soliciting donations in dining halls, hosting bake sales, and asking for pledges. The teams also had to have at least one member of the team on the track for all twelve hours of the event.

The participants jogged, walked, and ‘wheel-barrowed,’ around the track that was decorated with luminaria bags spelling out the word “Hope” filled with glow sticks and adorned with dedications to and pictures of cancer patients that were lit up ceremonially at 9 pm.

David S. Rosenthal, Oliver Professor of Hygiene and Director of Harvard University Health Services, as well as former President of the American Cancer Society, Harvard women’s basketball coach, and cancer survivor Kathy Delaney-Smith were the event’s guest speakers at the opening ceremonies.