April 22, 2013
On a night dedicated to honoring survivors, remembering victims
and saving lives, St. John’s University’s student-run, eighth
annual Relay for Life
raised a record-breaking $105,130 in contributions to the American Cancer Society.
The 12-hour event, starting at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 19, drew
more than 1,800 participants—including 1,639 students—to
Carnesecca Arena on the Queens, NY,
campus. They transformed the basketball court into a festive great
hall filled with folding chairs, purple-and-white balloons and
blankets as students prepared to camp there overnight.
The second annual Relay for Life at St. John’s Staten Island campus
raised $24,595, nearly $10,000 over goal. The six-hour event, also
held at 6 p.m. on April 19, drew more than 250 students and guests
to the Campus Center Gym for food, raffles and live
gallery of photos from Relay for Life.
Reflecting St. John’s global scope, the University held the
first Relays for Life at its international locations—the campus in
Rome, Italy, and
academic centers in
Paris, France, and
“Relay for Life has gone global at St. John’s,” said Kathryn T.
Hutchinson, Ph.D., Vice President for Student Affairs. “Many
students who study abroad during the spring semester said they
would miss being able to attend.” So one student, Kevin Grover
’13TCB, helped to organize Relays for Life at St. John’s
international locations. “I’m so proud of all our students and the
passion and dedication they show year after year for this wonderful
event,” she said.
Powerful Examples of Leadership
At the Queens campus,
Steve Lavin, Head Coach of the men’s basketball team, delivered
a keynote address recounting his own battle with prostate cancer.
The audience rose in a standing ovation when Lavin announced his
$8,000 donation to put total contributions at more than $100,000,
far surpassing this year’s goal of $82,000.
Lavin also led the annual procession of cancer survivors in a
ceremonial lap around the court. Joining him at the front of the
line were Lavin’s 79-year-old mother, Mary, and St. John’s graduate
Sean Latshaw ’12CPS—both survivors themselves.
“I want to begin by commending you,” Lavin told students. “You
are setting the most powerful example of leadership there
is—leadership through your example of taking action. As someone who
has survived cancer, I find your efforts, energy and passion to
support this vital cause to be truly inspiring. Looking around, I
see a number of championship banners gracing these walls,
representing the great athletes and coaches who have come through
here. But tonight, you are the champions.”
As the St. John’s dance team performed, the evening began with
music from the University band. Participants lit more than 700
Luminaria—glowing memorial bags—in honor of those who lost the
battle to cancer. Throughout the night, members of 121
student clubs, athletic
Greek societies danced, marched in laps around the basketball
court and participated in other activities. Designated the “VIP
Lounge,” a tent was erected for the student club that raised the
“Galvanized” to Serve
Planning began quickly after the conclusion of last April’s Relay,
said Morgan Wright ’14Ed, Chair of the Student Affairs Committee.
“We did well last year,” she said, “but we were sure we could raise
more money for cancer research.” Working with Greek and other
organizations, the committee raised Relay awareness by cosponsoring
a wide range of promotional activities, including a barbecue, pie
throwing and a lip-sync contest.
“The level of commitment I’ve found at St. John’s is
remarkable,” said Meaghan Neary, a Special Events Manager with ACS.
“These are some of the most dedicated students I’ve had the
pleasure of working with.”
For Lavin, the evening was uplifting. “As I often tell the teams
I coach,” he said, “the energy tonight is palpable…cancer is a
dreaded disease, yet it can be a teacher. It heightens our sense of
how fragile life can be, and how precious our time with loved ones
is. Cancer has touched all our lives and compels us to see through
a different lens, often increasing the appreciation for the most
central priorities of faith, family and good health. This has been
a moving evening for my mother and me—one we will always
Relay for Life is an international effort through which
communities and organizations raise funds for cancer research,
celebrate the courage of survivors and honor those who have died.
Since ACS began the program in 1986, the Relays have expanded to 21