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“Walking the Walk”

by
Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D.
President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

American Cancer Society Relay for Life
Alumni Sports & Recreation Center
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York

Friday, April 27, 2012


Good evening.

It is a great joy to see so many enthusiastic, dedicated people here. This is an inspirational and important event in the life of our university.  This is our seventh annual Relay for Life here at Rensselaer, and, over those years, we have raised over six hundred thousand dollars to fight cancer.

We expect, once again, to see over 1,000 people from our community participating – sponsoring teams and individuals, contributing music and food, and, of course, walking.

All of us have friends and family we honor, support, and commemorate with each step we take. As we walk around this track, we celebrate how they helped us to find answers, set goals, and form the character that makes us part of a community of caring.

Everyone here has stepped up to the challenge – literally. You have left comforts and life’s other demands to “walk the walk” of service. Our actions align well with the tradition of the pilgrimage -- a journey taken to remember, heal, seek answers, and build character. That tradition is thousands of years old. The Relay for Life does not take us to a memorial or a shrine; instead its destination is hope.

That hope is born of the love and friendship we have for those who have fought and won, or been lost to the fight, with cancer. As we, according to this year’s theme, “Torch Cancer,” we can imagine a world free of this disease, of winning that fight.

But a torch does more than set fires. It also shines light. The courage of those we celebrate lights our way and inspires us. It helps us to recognize qualities in ourselves and in the people around us that otherwise might go unnoticed.

I note that this event is not a solitary trek, but a relay. The journey around this track will be completed thanks to cooperation. The fight against cancer also is a relay as each generation hands off responsibility for fundraising, organization, research, and testing to the next generation.

This is where the hope, often in the midst of darkness, comes from. Cancer, like many other challenges, cannot be conquered by one person. Our endeavor will succeed because of the dedication of many people, working over many years.

I thank each of you for your many contributions to the Relay for Life and for coming here tonight to walk this track. And I look forward to joining you in taking the first steps.


Source citations are available from the division of Strategic Communications and External Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Statistical data contained herein were factually accurate at the time it was delivered. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute assumes no duty to change it to reflect new developments.

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