Winners of Relay for Life pageant crowned

Image by Bakerella, courtesy of Flickr via Creative Commons

Image by Bakerella, courtesy of Flickr via Creative Commons

Adrian Suarez Avila/ News Director

While some relay for their parents, Vivian Castro relays for her aunt, neighbor, and grandmother, a two-time breast cancer survivor.

The sophomore criminal justice major and sister of Phi Mu was one of five sorority women who participated in the Mr. and Miss Relay for Life pageant, which was hosted on Tuesday, Jan. 20 in the Graham Center Ballrooms at the Modesto A. Maidique Campus.

The pageant, which started in 2007 featuring only female contestants, intended to find a University representative for Relay for Life. Two years ago was when the pageant began accepting applications from male contestants.

Now the pageant features five female and five male contestants, all members of Greek and other campus organizations, and was divided into four segments: introduction, costume, fundraising, and question-and-answer rounds.

In the introduction round, contestants stated for whom they relayed and how they spent the previous week fundraising money for the organization.

Among the costumes that contestants donned were those of Daenerys Targaryen from the Game of Thrones series, Giuliana Rancic, Robin Roberts, Batman, Clark Kent, and Miss Rosa from Orange Is the New Black.

Some channeled the medical theme. Like Angelica-Joy Dumervil, a senior political science and international relations double major, who dressed as Meredith Grey of Grey’s Anatomy.

“We need people like Meredith Grey, like people in the medical industry working hard, working to find that cure, and people like us that come out every year…and help raise funds for a better tomorrow,” she said.

Upon completion of the costume round, contestants prepared themselves for the next round, which ordered them to run through the crowd to see which one could collect the most donations.

The question-and-answer portion followed soon after.

Contestants were individually asked a Relay for Life trivia question along with one that allowed them to elaborate why they wished to win.

Before the 2015 winners were announced, 2014 winners Kristen Nyman and Nijat Zeynalov spoke to those in attendance about their experience throughout the previous year.

Both spoke about their progress in inspiring the group of Relay for Life participants at the 2014 event, going from booth to booth encouraging those in attendance to continue working, to resist the urge to sleep and continue fighting.

They also displayed their gratitude.

“I realized that because of you guys I’m alive today,” said Zeynalov, a cancer survivor. “Because of [Relay for Life] I can have another birthday.”

He also thanked those who donated money and hair, citing that they are the ones helping people with cancer live.

Nyman also had a special message for the new winners.

“Do more than what [Nijat and I] did, set goals, reach them, inspire people,” she said.

Soon after the votes were rendered, the results were announced.

The 2015 winners were Joseph Paz and Natalie Agramonte, of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity and Alpha Xi Delta sorority, respectively.

The recent winners will serve as the keynote speakers at Relay’s opening ceremony, and be charged with cutting the ribbon for the inaugural lap, according to Kawi Gonzalez, a senior biology major and associate director of Relay for Life 2015 at FIU.

“What I hope [students] get out [of the event] is hope. This event is open to the whole entire community, and it brings a lot of closure to a lot of people. Everyone goes through some type of connection with cancer and when students come to our event [the community gives] them the closure that they need and the hope that they need,” she said.

The Relay for Life event will be held overnight between Feb. 27-28 in the Ryder Business loop at the MMC.

adrian.suarezavila@fiusm.com

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