Tents and sleeping bags littered Memorial Field Friday night as students participated in the Relay for Life, a night-long walk around the track that raised over $73,000 to benefit the American Cancer Society.
Although the majority of students soon ditched their sleeping bags for the warmth and comfort of their dorm rooms, a few dedicated volunteers stayed through the night. Walkers were spared the downpour that nearly ruined last year’s event, but still had to endure bitterly cold temperatures.
“I definitely bonded with a lot of people between the hours of 6 p.m. and 3 a.m., and I’m glad for having an awesome time listening to music, walking and freezing together,” Melody Dai ’07 said.
The main focus of the Relay was the opening ceremony dedicating the event to Lindsay Della Serra ’06, who died earlier this year from lymphoma.
One of Della Serra’s closest friends, Gwen Barnes ’06, addressed the crowd of walkers with a poignant tribute to her friend prior to the start of the Relay.
“It was nice to see so many Dartmouth students show up to something besides a frat basement on a Friday night,” Barnes said, “For me, speaking about Lindsay was pretty difficult, but it was a really moving experience having the support of the Dartmouth community and seeing all of the other students who have also been affected by cancer support an event like this.”
At 10 p.m. volunteers took part in a luminary ceremony, lighting over 300 candles in honor of those who had lost battles with cancer.
“It was especially inspiring when the gospel choir sang their hearts out and lifted our spirits after the silent, reflective candle-lit walk around the track,” Luz Lomeli ’07 said.
Other walkers were also moved by the Relay and saw it as an opportunity to reflect on the lives of those struggling with cancer.
“It was difficult to walk that long — my legs feel like cinder blocks today,” Caitlin Corey ’06 said, “But in walking I had time to reflect on the struggles cancer patients must fight through every day.”
For those who made it past 1 a.m., entertainment by a cappella and other student groups was replaced by renditions of Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync songs by a group of males who had commandeered the karaoke machine and belted out songs like “I Want It That Way” and O-town’s “All or Nothing” until the 5 a.m. bagel breakfast.
Despite the sore muscles and the fact that the Relay is primarily symbolic, since all the money raised by teams is received before the event, volunteers were still happy to take part in the walking.
“Even if the event itself was just an afterthought to the actual fund raising, it was still a fun and meaningful time for those who stayed throughout the night,” Dave Raines ’07 said.
Relay chair Lindsay Longe ’06 said she was overwhelmed by the support Dartmouth students had shown, evidenced by the 683 registered participants.
“It was incredibly successful. It was great to see the Dartmouth community come together for one night to really make a difference and have a lot of fun,” Longe said.
The annual Special Olympics summer games were also held for the first time in Lebanon on Saturday.
Morgan Cole ’07 volunteered at the event and was impressed by the turnout.
“The event was really great, and volunteering was well worth it. There were a lot of Dartmouth students there and everyone seemed to have a good day,” she said, “The best part was the excitement and gratitude of the athletes, they all seemed to be incredibly enthusiastic, dedicated and friendly.”
Volunteer coordinator Cindy Powder ’05 agreed.
“I was extremely pleased with the turnout. Volunteers came by themselves or with friends and they were all excited to help out, it was truly an overall success,” she said.