Hillside Chats: Casey Osgood and Shannon Capozzola

The annual cancer-awareness event Relay for Life is this Friday, put on by the American Cancer Association. I sat down with two of the three event chairs Casey Osgood and Shannon Capozzola to talk about the event itself, what this fight for a cure to cancer means to them and how to get involved!

Hey guys! Why don't you introduce yourselves to start off.

CO: Hi! I’m Casey Osgood and I’m a senior in the Lynch School  of education. I’m majoring in Applied Psychology and Human development and minoring in Faith, peace and Justice. And I’m from Wilton, CT.

SC: I’m Shannon Capozzola, and I’m a senior in A&S majoring in sociology, and I’m from Albany, NY.

Cool, so what is your position in this year’s Relay for Life?

CO: We’re both two of the event chairs for Relay for Life, Mark Maleri is our other chair and he’s a junior. What that basically means is that we oversee the planning and organization of the event throughout the year. We manage about 25 committee chairs and we have 11 committees total, and there’s about 100 people on the committee members total. So we meet with them periodically, and just kind of do the overhead stuff for the event.

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Photo courtesy of American Cancer Society/Flickr

 So how did you guys get involved with Relay For Life?

SC: We both joined the committees when we first got here, freshman year for Casey, sophomore year for me. And we moved from the committee chair positions to ultimately the event chair position. We both wanted this to be our “thing” at BC.

CO: Yeah I was the “Colleges against Cancer” chair, and Shannon was the Recruitment chair, which are just two of our committees. We’ve both gotten really involved and we’re both really passionate about it, and we want to spread that at BC.

Awesome, so can you talk a little more about Relay For Life?

CO: Basically what it is, is an all-night walk for cancer. And it takes place every year at the Plex, and it’s this Friday which is really exciting. It’s the American Cancer Society’s largest fundraising event, so all of the funds raised throughout the year goes towards research, advocacy, education and patient services, all of which help benefit the lives of cancer patients and their families, and help create a world with less cancer and more birthdays, as the American Cancer Society likes to say!

SC: The whole premise is to go from 6pm to 6am. Cancer doesn’t sleep, and so won’t we. We have 3 ceremonies: the first is the Survivor ceremony where we honor survivors and the survivors do the first lap around the track. And then we have the Luminaria ceremony, where we honor those who have lost the battle to cancer. It’s the more somber part of the night, the lights go off and we have glowsticks, and we all walk a lap around the track in silence. And then we have the Fight Back ceremony, which is the call to action to fight back against the disease. Throughout the night we have tons of dance and acapella groups performing, and fun games to keep our energy up, and it’s just a really fun 12 hours.

So what’s this year’s theme?

CO: This year’s theme is “Destination: Hope, Passport to a Cure”. We kind of wanted to tie a travel aspect into just the main concepts of hope and cure which are so prevalent in the lives of cancer patients. It emphasizes the fact that people all around the world can get cancer and that our final destination is to get a cure, and we won’t stop until we get that cure or help do whatever we can to motivate others to join the fight as well.

That’s great! So hopefully you don’t mind me asking, but do you guys have any personal ties with cancer?

CO: Yeah, I can start. Today [Tuesday, 3/25] is actually my Mom’s third anniversary of being cancer free, so she’s definitely an inspiration in my life. But yeah I have a history of cancer in my family, so many people have been affected by it. My senior year of high school my aunt passed away from breast cancer, and she battled for 9 years, in and out of remission. And the disease just kept spreading and ultimately took her life. But she was such a fighter and so strong, so she inspired me to keep working towards this cause. And then a year to the day of her passing, her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer as well. So that was really tough, but she caught it really early and she’s cancer free today. Then two months after that my Mom was diagnosed with Thyroid cancer, so it was a really tough time during my freshman year at BC. But They inspire me every day to keep supporting this cause.

Image Courtesy of American Cancer Society/Flickr

Photo courtesy of American Cancer Society/Flickr

SC: Also like Casey, cancer has been in my family a lot. My aunt also passed away my senior year of high school from colon cancer after a 9 year battle. And then another aunt after she passed away, was diagnosed but she is cancer free today. That’s why we are fighting and advocating for a cure, because we don’t want anyone else’s aunt or anyone to lose the fight to cancer. We’re so grateful to still have the people that are survivors, especially Casey’s mom.

CO: We don’t want any one of our loved ones to hear the words “You have cancer” ever again, and that’s why so many people in the committee are so involved, as well as everyone participating in the event in general. And you really see that unity, everyone is there for the same purpose. We all want to see an end to this disease.

Wow, thank you so much for sharing! So how can someone get involved with Relay For Life?

CO: So registration is still open online until Thursday night at midnight, if not longer. But as of right now it’s $20 to register at www.relayforlife.org/bc, and you can sign up and join an existing team or create a new team. Survivors can also sign up and it’s completely free for them, and they get a survivor dinner and a bunch of other goodies which is great. And the day of the event people can still register at the door, which opens up at 4pm, and it’s $30 at the door. We definitely encourage people to come and participate, and registration on the day of will be open until 10pm so if you can't make it by 6 there’s still time to join in!

Is there anything else you wanna say about the event?

SC: So this year we’re including a caregiver lap, which is really important because we are both caregivers. The caregivers will join the survivors for a lap. We don’t think that we have a lot of survivors in college, which is still more than you’d expect, but we do have a lot of caregivers, which is just anyone that has cared for a cancer patient.

CO: And a lot of people don’t realize that they are caregivers too, so we really wanted to highlight that at our event and show people that even in the smallest way you can be a caregiver. Just by participating in this event you technically are a caregiver. So that’s a really cool thing that we wanted to add.

SC: We are also very excited for Meghan Woody, who is our luminaria speaker. She will be graduating this May and she had cancer, leukemia, twice while she was at BC. So she’s been fighting and she’s been here for 5 years now and excited to graduate! And we are excited for her to speak.

CO: She has an amazing story to tell, so that’s very exciting.

SC: We also have some amazing raffle items this year! Like Red Sox tickets, a signed Bruins hockey stick, and a bunch of other items.

CO: And if people can’t come to the event our fundraising page is open until August 31st, so people can feel free to donate online. Our goal this year is $150,000, and we’ve reached to $102,000 the last time I checked.

 That’s amazing! Thank you guys so much!

 If you’d like to join Relay For Life you can register at www.relayforlife.org/bc or register on Friday from 4pm-10pm at the Plex.

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