Changing Lives One Step at a Time: Sixth Annual Relay for Life Raises More Than $16,000

From left to right, Jenny Metzger, Megan Scaccia and Jenna Hopper. Metzger and Hopper were in charge of planning this year's Relay for Life festivities. Photo By KATE PIERCE

News Editor

In doing laps around the quad, participants at Relay for Life were able to stop at tables representing countries of the world.

The sixth annual event raising money and awareness for cancer research had an international theme, with each team representing a different country. Some countries in attendance were Hungary, France, Trinidad, Mexico and Ireland.

The very first lap of the night was for cancer survivors and caregivers and was walked to the tune of “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child. Following the beginning laps was a kick off to the entertainment of the night with “Pain in the Brass,” an all-brass band made up of Saint Rose students.

Among the performances throughout the night was the Golden Knights Dance team, who put on a special production.

Madonna Mannese, a sophomore member of the team, helped to choreograph a piece to honor her mother, Barbara. Mannese’s mom was diagnosed with bladder cancer in January.

“You don’t realize how much it changes your life,” said Mannese. The dance will be performed at the team’s showcase next weekend as a surprise for Barbara.

“She does so much for the community,” said Mannese. “The dance will mean a lot to her.”

In addition to dancing, there was also plenty of singing entertainment provided by various performers, including Sabor Latino, Megan Osman, Emily Mitchell, the Other Guys, the Golden Notes and the Girls Next Door.

“We loved it so much and this year we wanted to go bigger,” said Megan Vanacore, a member of the Girls Next Door, an a cappella group on campus.

The club had a goal of $1,000 to raise as a team, and the morning of Relay they had upwards of $400. The Girls Next Door represented Scotland, and sold homemade Scottish shortbread at the event to continue fundraising.

Fundraising comes almost second nature to some student participants. This event is the ninth Relay for Vicki Stubbs, the president of the Saint Rose chapter of Colleges Against Cancer.

“It’s a time for everyone to come together and be there for each other and celebrate,” said Stubbs.

When Stubbs was in fifth grade, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. From that point forward into her mom’s remission, her family was able to become involved with Relay for Life.

“It’s always been a huge part of what our family does,” said Stubbs.

Some students, on the other hand, were attending Relay for the first time in their life.

Freshmen Jillian Reed and Rose Tommasi have both been affected by cancer, and decided to take part in the annual Saint Rose Relay.

“It’s a really positive environment to be in,” said Tommasi.

They were joined by the team captain of the “RCC” team, Hunter Hitchcock. Hitchcock is a freshman who helped to organize the team for resident students living in the first year residence halls of Riley, Carondelet and Cavanaugh.

It was also the first time that Hitchcock had participated in a Relay, and he was able to help with some of the behind-the-scenes work to set up for the event.

“Seeing it all come together has been wonderful,” he said.

Hitchcock’s Great-Nanna had cancer coupled with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

The experience of watching her go through the battle with cancer, and watching his family deal with the effects of that battle, is what inspired him to participate in the event.

“I think relay is a good image of what community is,” said Hitchcock. “Especially the Saint Rose community.”

Relay for Life meant something different this year to Matthew Frisher, a senior who has attended the event for the last three years.

“It’s an emotional event,” said Frisher. “It’s harder because this year I’m walking in memory instead of in honor.”

Frisher’s mother passed away in December 2016 from endometrial sarcoma, a uterine cancer. She had previously been a triple cancer survivor after beating thyroid cancer, melanoma, and endometrial sarcoma.

“Most of all, my mom was a fighter,” said Frisher.

Frisher’s oldest brother Danny is also a cancer survivor of Hodgkin’s lymphoma and has been in remission for 12 years.

“In the end, someone’s capable of finding the cure,” said Frisher. “And it could be me or anyone on this campus.”

The experiences of supporting his brother and their mother through battles with cancer helped Frisher to decide his path towards a career as a pediatric oncologist.

“We’re all here for a reason,” said Jenna Hopper, Co-Relay chair of CAC. “We all Relay for a reason.”

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