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Merrimack College Makes a Difference towards Cancer Research

April 22, 2014

The Merrimack College community raised more than $50,000 to battle cancer during the annual Relay for Life event, held over the past weekend. 

Relay for Life is a 12-hour overnight event in which all proceeds are donated to the American Cancer Society. This money is used for cancer research, education, patient services, and advocacy efforts.

As Bridget Gilroy, senior and co-chair said, “Relay allows us to gather as a community to finish the fight against cancer. Cancer is something that has touched everyone’s life in one way or another and Relay gives us the opportunity to fight back.”

The opening speech was delivered by senior Gabriella Angelini who was able to share her personal story with cancer and Relay for Life. Angelini said, “I love this event so much because it involves the whole Merrimack community including students, faculty, staff, and organizations on campus.”

The event began with a “survivor lap,” in which cancer survivors walk one lap while everyone cheers for them. In their second lap, they were joined by their caregivers, and in the third lap, everyone else joined them.

At 11 p.m., the Luminaria ceremony began, which is a tribute to those currently battling cancer and to those who have passed away. Professors Warren and Nancy Kay were the invited speakers for this ceremony. Participants took a silent lap to reflect on the fight against cancer, while illuminated bags were decorated in honor of those affected.

Gilroy said, “It is at this point that we are no longer strangers, but we become friends who are joined by tragedy but inspired to triumph.”

At 4:30am the Fight Back ceremony took place to remind participants that the fight against cancer is not over when Relay is over - everyone must continue until there is a cure.

This was the most attended Relay event that Merrimack has ever sponsored, with a total of 38 teams and 497 participants present. The more than $50,000 is the most a Merrimack Relay for Life has ever raised.

Joe Andruzzi, a former Patriots player and cancer survivor made a special appearance at the event. A few other highlights of the event included a frozen t-shirt contest, caricatures, karaoke, a photo booth, a smoothie bike, and relay races.

Many Merrimack faculty and staff also participated by running for 24 hours straight as a relay team. They call themselves the MC Road Warriors and this is the third year that they have participated in Merrimack’s Relay for Life. The MC Road Warriors consist of Warren Kay, Nancy Kay, Bill Bowhers, Mike Bradley, Matt Gordon, Jazmin Averbuck, Carol LeMay, Mark Gould, Patrick Spiegel, Laura Pruet, Laura Chmielicki, Lauren Bent, Jim Cain (husband of Kathy Cain), Robert Goldstein, Matt Isbell and his wife Kelly Rosetto, Gavril Bilev, and Allison Gill. They started at 6 a.m. April 4 and finished at 6 a.m. April 5 running approximately 300 total miles as a team. Many of the team members actually completed the equivalent of a marathon in this run.

Gilroy, Benjamin Knox, Victoria Ellis, and Brianna Decina, who chaired the Relay for Life committee, thanked all those on the committee, and all other students, staff, faculty, and community members who contributed to this event.  

Relay for Life is a great example of how Merrimack embraces its mission to enlighten minds, engage hearts, and empower lives. This event encourages teamwork and collaboration, while empowering students to make a difference. 

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