There was a time when Westfield State students participated in Relay For Life activities off campus because such an event was not offered at the University.
When I was a freshman in the spring of 2012, a few of my friends participated in a nearby Relay—a 24-hour fundraiser for the American Cancer Society—but I didn’t know enough about it to feel comfortable signing up. That has now changed for the better.
Westfield State held its first Relay For Life on April 1. It also launched a new Relay For Life club, brought about by co-presidents Brenna Closius ’15 and Beth Teague ’15.
Teague has been involved with Relay since she was 12 and has been interested in bringing the Relay to campus since attending an event at the nearby University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and also at Clark University in Worcester. Despite the challenges of bringing Relay to a small state school with other competing events nearby, Teague was determined to try. Together, she and Closius made the necessary connections to start the club and bring Relay to Westfield State.
The goal was to have 200 participants in the first University Relay and to raise $20,000, but Westfield State surpassed that by nearly twice the amount. Over $39,000 was raised, and 375 people attended, representing over 50 teams.
Relay featured games, raffles, live entertainment, food and themed laps to keep people awake and interested. There was a survivors’ lap, a caregivers’ lap, and a survivors’ dinner for all of the survivors on campus who were invited, which I thought was especially important.
I know many people have been affected deeply by cancer, but it can be empowering to see them all gathered together to support the fight to end cancer. My friend Andrew Alcombright ’14 has lost several friends and family members to cancer, and it meant a lot to him that Relay was brought to campus.
“By raising money for cancer research, we are able to fight against cancer to find cures for it so we don’t have to lose more brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends anymore,” Alcombright says. “By coming together, we unite against cancer to bring awareness and fight back to help make this world cancer-free.”
Teague is thrilled by the difference Westfield State made for the American Cancer Society.