Relay for Life rallies against cancer

Natalie Sweet, Staff Writer

On Alumni Field yesterday afternoon, students, faculty, and parents alike could be spotted playing carnival games, walking laps, and bungee jumping as part of the school’s fourth annual Relay for Life.

The Cancer Awareness Club (CAC) brought together musicians, bouncy castles, and the relay itself to make the day possible. However, rain started to pour an hour into the event, forcing the organizers to shift the activities into the Friedman gymnasium.

Despite the downpour, the event was able to carry on through speeches by CAC co-President Luke Weber (11). Weber and CAC Vice President Kyra Kwok (12) spoke to the students and faculty. Several performers also took the stage in the gyms, including a piano duet between Yana Gitelman (10) and Annie Wallach (12).

The purpose of Relay for Life is to raise money for the American Cancer Society for research and treatment, but also to make everyone more aware of how much the school community is affected by cancer, Lower Division Coordinator Lita Crichton (10) said.

To accomplish all of these tasks, the 70 members of the CAC were split into 11 different committees such as inter-school, faculty, and activities, with 22 different coordinators leading the committees, Weber said. These leaders then delegated tasks to the other committee members.

One task given was meeting with people to help bring events to Relay for Life. Jakob Djibankov (12) met with a sales associate of the amusement company that provided the booths.

All of the students in CAC are amazing and very hardworking, which makes the jobs of the faculty advisors a lot easier, Upper Division Dean of Students Dr. Susan Delanty said.

“The dedication of these students is incredible,” Coaches Versus Cancer Coordinator Ray Barile said. “Through their commitment, they are really capturing the spirit of this event.”

Weber joined Relay for Life for the first time because of his brother Jack Weber ‘17, who founded the CAC, he said.

To Kate Bown (10), being able to lead something that had a great impact such as raising funds for cancer research is empowering.

Weber’s favorite part of organizing Relay for Life is the meetings, where he can give assignments to people and get work done, all while coming together to have a great time, he said.

“It’s always a good time to see the road ahead and see what we have accomplished,” Weber said. “I look around the room and see that all of these people are here for a reason, they are here to fight cancer because they have been affected by it in some way or the other.”

  A new aspect of Relay for Life is the participation from two neighboring schools, Fieldston and Riverdale, Weber said. “This year, the inter-school committee was created to help draw in students from these schools to participate,” he said.

“I hope to see the HM community as a whole take it as their own,” CAC co-president Julia Roth (12) said. “It’s already amazing how many people participate as members of the club, but I’d love to see it become an entirely school-wide event.”

To Djibankov, Relay for Life is a way to make an impact, he said. Seeing people struggling with cancer all around him reminds him of the goal he is working for, he said.

As a cancer survivor himself, it is important to Weber that he can do whatever he can to help others who are going through what he went through, he said.

“At the end of the day, Relay is going to mean and feel something different for each person,” Barile said. “As long as it’s a positive feeling, that’s the goal I wish for everyone.”