Maggie Reid, Staff Writer
Utica College’s organization Colleges Against Cancer was formed in 2014 and is one of the many organizations across the country on other college campuses. It is a division of the American Cancer society.
Taylor Raga, president of the organization, had many things to say about all of the good things that CAC accomplishes.
“One of our goals, of course, is to raise money for the American Cancer Society,” Raga said.
ACS uses the funds for research grants, education programs, information and support for newly diagnosed patients. They also assist in transporting patients to treatment and provide lodging for patients when their only treatment center option is so far away from home. ACS does a lot of good for cancer patients and their families. CAC holds events on campus to fundraise, educate students and to bring awareness.
CAC’s biggest event is Relay for Life. This year, it will be held from 6 p.m. on Friday, April 7 to 6 a.m., Saturday April 8. It will be the third time that Utica College is hosting this event. Relay for Life is American Cancer Society’s signature event, and while most are 24 hours, there are some, like Utica College’s that are only 12. Either way, the relays will run over night.
“Cancer doesn’t sleep, so neither are we.” Raga said.
The idea is to have someone from your team walking at all times on the track. There will also be events going on all night, such as games and music. There will also be opportunities to remember those who have passed and to celebrate those who are still here.
Taylor Raga joined as a freshman in 2014. Since she was a commuter, she wanted to find ways to become involved on campus and make new friends. She was invited by one of the original founders of the organization, and decided to stay because she had a personal family history with cancer.
“I lost my grandma to cancer in 1998 and my mom is a breast cancer survivor,” Raga said. “I stayed because I realized that I want to be someone that makes a difference in the world. I want to be someone that causes change. And most of all, I want to be part of the fight against cancer.”
The first Relay for Life raised $21,000. Raga reflected on how everyone was surprised that so much was raised for a new organization on campus. Organizers had no idea how it was going to all come together, but somehow, it all worked out in the end.
“Last year, we were the first non-athletic event to be held in the Dome,” Raga said. “We broke $30,000 and I couldn’t have been happier to hear the news.”
Last year, the entertainment consisted of local bands, WNPR and an Acapella group. This year, Raga says that they are looking to bring in more money to raise for the American Cancer Society. The group is also looking into ways to involve more people. Ideally, Raga said, they would have every organization and faculty to join and create a team.
Every year, Relay has a team. After members of CAC voted, they decided that the theme would be Disney. Every team that is registered will have their own designated “camp site” in the Dome where they can relax when they aren’t walking and where they can set up their on-site fundraiser.
Every team will have the chance to pick which Disney movie they will represent. They will be able to decorate their campsite like the setting of the movie and even dress up as characters.
A reason why students should become involved with CAC, according to Raga, is the chance for them to be a part of something greater than themselves.
“My favorite part about CAC is that we are a group of young people that want to make a difference and want to make the world a better place,” Raga said. “We all have the same goal: to see a world without cancer and we are willing to volunteer our time and talents to make this possible someday.”
The easiest way to get involved with CAC is to attend their meetings, which happen every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in Boehlert Conference Center. If you want more information about CAC or want to know other ways to be involved, you can reach out to Taylor via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to sign up for a team for Relay, Raga says that it is very easy.
You can go to www.RelayForLife.org/UticaCollegeNY and either start a new team or join an existing one.