Relay For Life affects Towson students

Published April 2010

By Alena R. Schwarz

Relay for Life is one of the biggest events that promotes the fight against cancer and can be seen as an outlet for those who have been affected by cancer to come together, for one night and rally around the cause.

The event took place at the Towson Center from Friday, Mar. 27 to Saturday, Mar. 28. It lasted for 12 hours and the idea was that participants would walk the track, even as they started getting tired, to represent some of the struggles that real cancer patients went through.

Freshman Kristen Gioffre, who was the Tower A Team captain, was just one of these many people who had been affected by cancer and wanted to take a stand. She decided to create her own team to try to help the fight.

“I’m on Building Council [for Tower A],” Gioffre said. “Our Activities Coordinator, Jenna [Blair] was the assistant coordinator for Relay. I had never done it and it sounded interesting. Cancer’s affected my family and I wanted to do something about it.”


As team captain, Gioffre had several responsibilities that were different from those of an average participant.

“I was in charge of recruitment [for the team] and accounting. I also had to attend the team captains meetings and plan my own meetings,” Gioffre said. “It was also a lot of detail work like working out the logistics, creating banners, getting donations, getting as much money and as many participants as possible and making sure the [participants] were appreciated.”

Why She Got Involved

For Gioffre specifically, she had multiple reasons for taking part in Relay for Life. For one, as someone who was applying to be an RA for her sophomore year, she wanted to get a bit more experience with getting involved with Building Council activities. Another reason was because of what she went through regarding her family’s struggles with cancer.

“At first I joined because I wanted more experience on the Building Council, but then it became a bit more about wanting to make a difference in the fight against cancer,” Gioffre said. “My grandpa died of colon cancer before I was born and my grandma died about two years ago. She was like a second mom to me. Watching her go through chemotherapy was really emotional.”

One of the highlights of the event was the Luminaria ceremony. It started with a current Towson student who spoke about her current struggles with cancer and what she is doing to make herself better overall and how this experience has changed her life. For some people like Gioffre, this message was able to hit home because they were well aware of the struggles that came with chemotherapy.

“When the speaker was talking about her experience with chemotherapy, I felt like I could really relate,” Gioffre said. “This is something that’s hard for us [who have been affected by cancer], but I know this is what my grandma would have wanted; for me to live my life and never forget her.”

Overall Reaction

As for the overall event, Gioffre considered it a success for her team. Not only was she able to grab a large number of participants, but she was also able to hand in a lot of money made off of donations.

“I think it went better than expected. The team did really well working up to Relay. The final event can really make or break a team because people might not show up, or we might not make as much money as we would have wanted to,” Gioffre said. “When we got there I was able to hand in $581 just in participant donations. We also auctioned off a T.V. at the event and made $389 from that.”

While most of the participants at Relay had experienced cancer in their lives in some way or another, people who had never experienced it could still get something out of it.

“I think the experience would be different, but the actual event makes you see how it affects other people. You can see that it’s a struggle for everyone,” Gioffre said.

The Meaning of Relay

As Relay wore on, the want to keep going got smaller and smaller, but the participants knew that they needed to keep going, that real cancer patients never got a chance to sit and rest.

“I was motivated be a few things,” Gioffre said. “As captain I felt obligated to keep going, but I also wanted to stay. Some people came back for the very end which was a huge energy boost. The event itself and the people who stayed the whole time definitely helped.”

As for Gioffre personally, the Luminaria ceremony was the one that was most important to her.

“It was really touching and emotion,” she said. “This is why we’ve put work into Relay. It really gave a sense of how many lives you’re touching.”

More Information

Visit the official Relay for Life website to learn more about the overall event and find an even nearby. Towson raised over $55,ooo in the fight against cancer. The American Cancer Society can help answer all questions regarding cancer and its different forms.


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