Cancer survivors, friends ready for Relay For Life

The 2013 SUNY New Paltz Relay for Life Committee.

The 2013 SUNY New Paltz Relay for Life Committee.

When Relay For Life comes to SUNY New Paltz, cancer survivors and the people who care for them will have a chance to fight cancer on the racetrack this Sunday, April 28. It won’t be the first time.

“We’ve been having the event in New Paltz, annually, since 2004. This last year was a big year, because we raised over $24,000,” explained David Manis, who helped organize the relay with other students on campus.

“It was the first time in a while that they raised that much money. This year our goal is to raise $30,000,” he added. “Currently, we’re a little over $19,000.”

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Sunday’s 12-hour fundraiser, which goes to benefit the American Cancer Society, features a lot more than just running. Student choral groups — like the all-female a capella group, The Sexy Pitches — will be performing. There’ll be a hypnotist, a magician and many, many stories of hope in the face of terminal diseases.

Runners still have time to register for the relay with their teams. Or they can show up early at 9:15 a.m. to register in person. The relay will start at the Old Main Quad.

At 10 a.m. the relay kicks off with the Opening Ceremony, which begins with a special lap for cancer survivors only.

Manis has more at stake in organizing the Relay For Life than one might expect of a college senior studying business. He’s a four-year testicular cancer survivor. At age 18, a routine sports physical for track and field helped find a lump that ended up being malignant.

He went through chemotherapy during 2008-2009, on and off with classes, as he tried to finish out his high school career.

“Monday morning, it was right back to school: seeing my friends, doing homework, applying to colleges, taking SATs, finishing up senior year,” he said. “I didn’t let cancer stop me from having fun that year.”

When he came to SUNY New Paltz, he was glad to find that the campus already had a Relay For Life Club. He started as someone looking to form a team, but became gradually more involved. This year, Manis is leading the charge along with Sarah Sobel, the club’s other co-chair. Altogether, there’s about 20 students involved in the club on campus.

After all the music and running, there’ll be a Luminaria Ceremony at 9 p.m. to remember those people who’ve lost their lives to cancer in the last few years. The Closing Ceremony will be from 9:30 until 10 p.m.

To learn more about the event, to register a relay team or become a sponsor, head to www.relayforlife.org/sunynewpaltzny.

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