RIT student Joshua Schwartz makes a difference through Relay For Life

Annual American Cancer Society fundraiser will be held on campus April 6-7


Each year, thousands of RIT students participate in Relay For Life to support the American Cancer Society. This year’s Relay For Life is April 6-7 in the Gordon Field House on campus.

Joshua Schwartz, a fourth-year chemical engineering student from Worcester, Mass., and the co-president of the American Cancer Society chapter on campus, discusses this year’s Relay For Life on April 6-7, a fundraiser for cancer research and prevention. In the past three years, Relay For Life has raised $210,000 for the American Cancer Society.

Why did you get involved in Relay For Life?

I wanted to involve myself in more leadership opportunities where I felt I could make a difference on this campus creating memories for people that they would never forget. This event is truly one of a kind as it brings so many different spheres of RIT together including Greek Life, varsity and intramural sports, orientation groups, housing groups, and performing arts groups, among others. It also raises money for an amazing cause to help treat cancer.

Talk about the spirit of the event.

The event has a spirit like no other. For 12 hours, starting at 7 p.m. on April 6 and through the night, thousands of students gather at the Gordon Field House to raise money for the American Cancer Society. We have three major ceremonies: our opening ceremony where we celebrate survivors, our remember ceremony where we think about those we have lost, and our fight back ceremony where we gather to help end cancer. Everyone in some way, shape, or form is affected by cancer so this event supports a cause that everyone feels connected to.

What will participants experience that day?

Every team sets up at a table and does a fundraiser. All money goes directly to the American Cancer Society. We usually have 75-100 teams and last year, we had over 3,000 people attend. Teams do bake sales, arts and crafts, or other fundraisers related to their clubs. There are also themed laps around the track as well as group activities that occur such as karaoke, a tug of war tournament, dodgeball, and a cornhole tournament. Nancy Munson will also be speaking and, weather permitting, we will have a hot air balloon from 4 to 6 a.m., just before sunrise.

Have you seen the impact of the funds that have been raised?

Our funds go directly to the national directives to support cancer treatments, research, and mental and physical treatment for patients.

You mentioned that there are thousands of students that participate in the relay each year. Why do you think this event is so popular with students?

I believe this event is popular with students because it supports an organization that everyone can get behind as everyone is affected by cancer in some way in their lives. This event also gives students 12 hours of philanthropy work. Relay For Life also has such a dynamic and unique spirit. There is no overnight event on campus like this, and there is no event led by so much passion and emotion for supporting a compelling cause than Relay For Life.

Participants are encouraged to sign up in advance, but can register at the door. For more information about Relay for Life, or to join a Relay For Life team, go to the RIT Relay For Life website.

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