Marissa Filletti, staff writer
Utica College currently has 114 clubs and organizations. Students with passion, drive and tremendous determination are behind the success of each, as they explore their passions and work to make a difference. Taylor Raga is no different.
Raga, a government and politics major from Whitesboro, New York, is the secretary for the Colleges Against Cancer organization (CAC) on campus. For her, the club is more than just a hobby – it’s an outlet that she uses to make a difference.
“When I was two years old, my grandma was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She had gotten very sick, very quickly,” Raga said. “We knew that she didn’t have much time left so we planned one last family vacation. She ended up passing away 13 days before Christmas and 14 days before we were supposed to leave for vacation.”
Her grandma’s passing was a very hard time for her entire family and unfortunately, this was not the last time cancer would affect one of Raga’s loved ones.
“When I was in second grade my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. As an eight-year-old, I didn’t really realize the severity of what was going on. As I’ve gotten older, I realize how lucky I am to still have my mom around. Her battle never stopped her from being my Mom,” Raga said. “She remained on my elementary school’s PTO, she never missed one of my cheerleading games or dance recitals and never stopped cooking dinner. She is a survivor and an inspiration.”
After two of the most important women in her life were affected by cancer, Raga decided she wasn’t going to stand by, cross her fingers and hope for the best. Instead, she aimed to bring about change.
“I want to live in a world where there is no cancer,” Raga said. “I don’t want any child to ever have to watch their parent go through chemotherapy. I know that someday there will be a cure and I’m going to be so proud that the funds I raised helped make that happen.”
CAC hold events throughout the year to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Relay For Life, the club’s biggest fundraiser, raised more than $22,000 at last year’s inaugural event. This year, the organization has raised more than $16,000 even before Relay.
“I can’t believe how much money we have raised so far,” Raga said. “We are a relatively small group of people and the fact that we have raised that much is amazing. CAC is really a club like no other. We are saving lives and making a difference.”
Many students may want to help but don’t know how they can with limited funds.
“It’s really all about priorities. Students spend money every day,” Raga said. “If they buy one less crappy cup of coffee per week, I’m sure they can scratch up $10 to register for Relay. Every single penny counts. If students make the decision to come to Relay, they’re going to bring one or two friends at least. And once they’ve experienced Relay, once they’ve seen the massive amount of people on this campus whose lives have been impacted by this disease, they’re going to realize they want to live in a world without cancer, too.”
This year’s Relay For Life event begins today, Friday, April 8th at 6 p.m. in the Todd and Jennifer Hutton Sports and Recreation Dome and will conclude tomorrow at 6 a.m. Register online at relayforlife.org/uticacollegeNY or at the Dome beginning at 4 p.m.