For the Greater Good
If there's any rivalry between Ithaca College and Cornell students, it is disregarded while students collaborate on fund-raising events and service projects throughout the year. Each campus has its own first-year student service program -- Community Plunge at IC and POST (Pre-Orientation Service Trips) at CU -- in which students can work on joint community service projects in August, even before classes begin. April is a busy month for student volunteers because it's when the annual National Volunteer Week is held, and frequently the campuses get together to make a difference in the town they both call home. This spring provided a new occasion for students to meet and work with people from the other hill.
Although Relay for Life is a 20-year-old program, it had never had a presence in Ithaca. A benefit for the American Cancer Society, its purposes are to celebrate survivorship and raise money for research and programs. During the annual overnight event, teams of people take turns walking or running laps around a track, with each team trying to keep at least one member in motion at all times.
This 24-hour relay began in Tacoma, Washington, in 1985 as a single-person event. This year IC and Cornell students added to that tradition by organizing 1,254 participants on 106 teams (42 IC teams and 64 Cornell teams) to participate in the weekend event, held in Cornell's indoor stadium, the Ramin Room. Together the institutions raised $130,000 -- the second-highest total among all college in the country that participated this year.
Briavel O'Reilly '05 raised the most money for an individual -- $2,752. That success bolstered other participants. Cornell sophomore Lisa Anne Gilbertson says that any competition was friendly and positive. "If anything," Gilbertson says, "the unspoken rivalry has compelled students to raise more money. Because we are all here, it shows that we can cooperate and together raise awareness."
Laura Candeloro '06, a member of the IC Residence Hall Association, agrees with Gilbertson. "I think some people do harbor an unspoken rivalry," Candeloro says. "But I haven't seen any animosity tonight. Like everyone else, I'm here to help raise money for an important cause." Both women say that they would like to participate next year because the successful turnout demonstrates that this type of event can foster both philanthropy and cross-campus respect and friendships. Representatives from the student activities offices from both campuses hope that Relay for Life will continue to be a collaborative effort. "I definitely think that the event could not have been nearly as successful without both schools," says Gilbertson, "and I think everyone realized that. Ithaca is unique in that way." -- Ashley Watson
Photo by Deb Mohlenhoff