Villanova Relay for Life raises over $50,000



By Ron Giofu


The fight against cancer got a major boost Friday thanks to students at St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School.

Villanova held its annual Relay for Life with tents and events being inside the school’s track while a Survivors’ Lap and other relays took part on the track itself. Events were held throughout the afternoon and evening with the luminary ceremony taking place at night prior to the closing ceremony.

When all was said and done, the Catholic high school raised over $50,000, far surpassing their goal of $35,000.

A Survivor’s Lap got the Relay for Life started last
Friday at St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School.

Thalia Pandolfi, one of the students on the 14-person organizing committee, noted that “we’re here for one reason – because cancer has impacted our lives in some way.” Pandolfi shared her story, which saw her mother hit by the disease multiple times though now she is cancer-free.

Pandolfi said her mother survived breast cancer but, unfortunately, the fight wasn’t over. Pandolfi recalled a couple of years later, when she was 11-years-old, being pulled from school by her grandmother because her mother was in the hospital. When she arrived at the hospital to find her mother crying, Pandolfi was told she was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

After beating that, Pandolfi’s mother was diagnosed with more tumours again a few years later. When she beat that, unfortunately the fight was still not over.

“When I was in Grade 9, I was told my mother had another brain tumour,” Pandolfi said.

This was a particularly “mentally taxing” period for the family, she said, given all that they had already gone through.

“After you go through something that many times, it’s mentally deteriorating,” she added.

However, Pandolfi’s mother beat that as well and took the survivor’s lap with the other cancer survivors. Pandolfi said it shows how strong her mother is as well as the other cancer survivors.

Pandolfi said it was very gratifying to take the Survivors’ Lap with her mom, and that she couldn’t explain the feeling of walking beside her knowing she doesn’t have to worry about her right now.

There were about 40 teams taking part in Villanova’s Relay for Life. She said the relays on the track were symbolic of what a cancer patient can go through as when a person is tired doing their relay, “you just have to keep going.”

Other events included escape rooms, Family Feud games, a slip and slide, bubble soccer and a variety of themed-relay laps.

Megan Veldhuis and Riley Mayville have fun on the slip ‘n’ slide that was at June 1 Relay for Life event at St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School.

“We’ve got a lot of really fun stuff,” said Pandolfi.

Approximately 450 students participated, she said, most of them being from Villanova although some students from Lajeunesse joined in.

“We have an amazing committee,” she added, noting there was a lot of work put in to make sure the Villanova Relay for Life was successful.

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