Senior Feature: Hannah and Susan, Relay for Life Co-Chairs

UR Stuck On Campus | | April 7, 2016

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Relay for Life is one of, if not the largest, fundraising events on the University of Rochester campus each year. Although a common misconception, Relay for Life is not in fact a relay race, but rather an all-night event where students and faculty, Greek organizations, sports teams, and other clubs, ban together and stay up all night to take a stand against cancer—something that affects many people in our campus community. Last year, Relay for Life raised over $47,000 for cancer research and patient programs locally as well as nationwide, making the U of R one of the most successful Relay for Life events for a college its size.

For all of these reasons, I decided to sit down with the co-chairs for this year’s Relay for Life, Hannah Daughton and Susan Talbot, to talk about the event (which is happening this weekend!)

Hannah and Susan are both seniors and are involved in a multitude of activities both individually, but also together. Collectively, Sannah or Hoosan (their celebrity couple names…still tbd) have been a Resident Advisor, a Teaching Assistant, Panhellenic President, Delta Gamma Fraternity President, a Meridian, done research at the Medical Center, held an off-campus job in Finance, and have volunteered at numerous events and with multiple organizations. This unstoppable duo has devoted much of their year to Relay among other activities, so of course they deserved a feature.

Here’s our conversation.

Matt Lerner (ML): “First and foremost, what is Relay for Life?”

Hannah Daughton/Susan Talbot (HD + ST): “Relay For Life is one of, if not the biggest, event that happens within the U of R community every year. Cancer has affected everyone in some way, and this event is an opportunity for us to come together for this cause. We have ceremonies to “Celebrate” those who have survived cancer, “Remember” those who lost their lives to cancer, and “Fight Back” by raising cancer awareness and funds for research and treatment. Because cancer doesn’t sleep, for that night, neither do we. Teams of participants continuously walk laps throughout the night, in addition to the ceremonies and dozens of other performances and activities going on throughout the course of the event.”

ML: “What sort of programs and events does the money raised at Relay go towards?”

HD + ST: “Money raised through Relay For Life goes to a number of places. Much of it goes to research, including for treatments and therapies, prevention methods, and ways to potentially cure cancer. Tens of thousands of these dollars will be allocated directly as grants to the Wilmot Cancer Center, which is part of the University of Rochester. Some funds go to Hope Lodge locations, which are facilities provided through the American Cancer Society (ACS) for patients and their caregivers to stay as they undergo treatment. Members of Colleges Against Cancer go to the local Hope Lodge to cook dinners for patients who are receiving care at Wilmot and their families. Other funds go directly to cancer patients and survivors to ameliorate their quality of life, including ‘Road To Recovery’, which matches cancer patients with volunteer drivers to transport them to and from treatment. ‘Look Good… Feel Better’ is a service that helps patients who have undergone chemotherapy and radiation treatments and consequently lost their hair to improve their self-image through the help of volunteer beauty professionals. ‘Reach To Recovery’ is a program that matches breast cancer survivors as mentors for people who have recently been diagnosed.”

ML: “What goes into planning the event? How long have you been preparing for Relay?”

HD + ST: “We have been planning for Relay essentially since Relay last year. We’ve been so lucky to have had an amazing committee that has helped us so much along the way, and we’ve received a great deal of support from our ACS Representative, Jordan Cimilluca.”

ML: “Why do you both participate in Relay for Life?”

HD: “I participate in Relay because I’ve lost some very important people in my life to cancer, and I want to do whatever I can to minimize the number of lives lost to it in coming years. As much as the fundraising aspects of Relay are rewarding, my favorite part is witnessing how powerful the Survivor and Caregiver laps and how the Celebrate, Remember, and Fight Back ceremonies are as well.”

ST: “I’m involved in Relay because I believe that in some way cancer touches everyone.  It is hard to find someone who has not been personally affected by the diagnosis or loss of a friend or loved one. I participate in Relay in the hope that we can find a cure, and make it so that in the future not as many people have to experience this.”

ML: “What are you both most looking forward to in this year’s Relay for Life?”

HD + ST: “We’re both most excited to hear our speakers this year!”

ML: “What do you want the U of R campus community to know about the event?”

HD + ST: “Relay is about so much more than raising money. Although we do put a lot of emphasis on fundraising, the quality of the event is just as significant. I don’t think that anyone could experience the Relay For Life ceremonies and not feel moved in some way.”

ML: “Post-graduation, do you think you’ll continue to be involved in Relay for Life?”

HD: “Even after I leave the U of R, Relay will always mean a lot to me. I’ll send as much support as I can as an alumna, and I hope to be able to get involved in Relay events wherever I end up in the future!”

ST: “I will be moving to Boston next year and hopefully can remain connected to Relay for Life events in the area or with Relay for Life 2017 back at Rochester!”

Relay for Life at the University of Rochester is on Friday, April 8th starting at 7:30pm in the Goergen Athletic Center Field House. All are welcome, and participants who have not signed up prior to the event are encouraged to sign up on at the door.


‘Hoosan’ as freshmen rocking it at Delta Gamma Formal, Spring 2013.