By Beckett Mufson
"If you haven't done it, do it. If you've done it, do it again," said Hofstra sophomore Dwayne Lindsey, who ran for 12 consecutive hours at Hofstra's Relay for Life fundraiser last Saturday. This is the second year in a row that Lindsey has run for the entire length of the Relay, motivated by his grandfather's struggle with cancer.
"I relay in my grandfather's memory and to inspire as many other people as I can to the cause," said Lindsey.
Hofstra's fifth annual Relay for life was held on the intramural fields and spanned a 12-hour period. Participants showed their solidarity for victims of cancer by staying awake from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and raising money for the American Cancer Society.
Edward Mouradian, a Senior Director of Relay for Life in the New York and Metro area, initiated the opening ceremony, which consisted of speeches and performances from organizers, students, singers, and survivors.
Among the speakers was a digital version of Erin Willett, a Hofstra alumnus who has gained fame through singing competition show, "The Voice." She sent a video relaying her own struggle with her father's fatal case of cancer, and showed her support for Hofstra's Relay for Life and the cause it stands for.
At the end of the introduction, all the participants communally took part in the Survivor Lap. The lap was led by 80 people who have been personally attacked by cancer or were identified as caregivers. The rest of the 1300 students, staff, administrators, and employees followed behind in silence. The crowd dispersed until the next event, which was the Luminaria Ceremony. The Luminaria Ceremony is the lighting of makeshift paper lamps, commemorating those who have lost the fight and rallying those who are still fighting.
Mourners gather around the Luminarias they have made for their loved ones, often breaking down and crying. As the Relayers were given time to mourn, a rendition of "Amazing Grace" played over the loudspeaker.
After the Luminaria Ceremony, Relay for Life changed gears and hosted activities including Tug-o-War and "Purple Pong." It remained lighthearted and hopeful all the way through the closing ceremony.
The first Hofstra Relay for Life was in 2007, and the organization has grown a lot since its inception.
"Relay has more than doubled in size, more than tripled in how much we've raised, and the impact we've had has been tremendous," says Zach Dane, the co-chair of the Hofstra Relay for Life. Under the leadership of Dane and his Co-Chair, Katie Friedman, the event on Saturday raised over $104,000, plus proceeds from vendors selling goods on-site.
"When we started the event five years ago, there were about 300 people, 30 teams, we raised about $30,000 and we had so few Luminaria bags that we had to put them in a circle in the middle of the field. Five years later we're the fourth-largest relay for life in all of New York and New Jersey," said Mouradian.
Before Mouradian's work with Relay For Life, he did not realize how much could be accomplished.
"I didn't have a full understanding of what people could do if they came together for a common cause," said Mouradian.