August 27, 2014

Celebration of life and hope at the Relay for Life Survivor Dinner

“Today would have been my brother’s birthday, August 1. I have chills…”

…explained Agnes Tagliavento, an academic program assistant, who has for many years helped lead the school’s participation in our local Relay for Life Survivor Dinner.

Thanks to Agnes’s advocacy, the School of Hotel Administration and the Statler Hotel sponsor this annual event for cancer survivors and their caretakers in the Tompkins County area. Graduate students as well as staff from the school and the hotel volunteer every year to celebrate the lives of all survivors and remember those who have passed.

Agnes knows a lot about life with cancer. She is a cancer survivor herself, and so is her brother Nick. Their sister Domenica was recently diagnosed with the disease. Their brother Joe succumbed to cancer a few years ago. During his illness and before being diagnosed herself, Agnes became a volunteer and then a team captain for Relay for Life. She now co-chairs the Survivor Dinner with Nicole Boosembark-Baker ’02, representing the School of Hotel Administration.

Nicole, the Statler Hotel’s revenue manager, has volunteered for Relay for Life since 2005. Like Agnes, Nicole shares a personal connection to the event, as cancer took her father’s life, and her mother is now a survivor. Nicole’s energy and enthusiasm for this labor of love are evident to anyone who talks to her about it. She works diligently to manage all the pre-event logistics and to coordinate the participation of all the graduate students who volunteer at the event.

Outreach and public engagement are two of the guiding principles that have shaped Cornell University since its inception. Inspired by the words of the school’s first major benefactor, E. M. Statler, Hotelies live by the credo that “life is service.” Like Hotelies everywhere, our school welcomes the opportunity to serve our community through events including the Relay for Life Survivor Dinner.

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