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Relay for Life at CCU: $1 million closer to a cure

April 5, 2018
CCU’s Relay For Life event reaches million-dollar mark; public is invited to participate in the walk on April 7 at the university’s track and field facilityCCU’s Relay For Life event reaches million-dollar mark; public is invited to participate in the walk on April 7 at the university’s track and field facility

Twelve years, thousands of volunteers, countless hugs, tears and laughs, and an unwavering dedication to defeating cancer. Add all that up, and you get an organization that has raised $1 million since 2006 for the American Cancer Society.

Two days ahead of its annual Relay For Life event, the Coastal Carolina University student-run chapter of Colleges Against Cancer (CAC) reached the million-dollar mark of lifetime funds raised.

“This is a great accomplishment that recognizes the students for their hard work in the fight against cancer,” said Troy Matheny, the senior community development manager for the southeast region of the American Cancer Society. The students in CAC plan the event, publicize it, build fundraising teams, set goals, achieve them, and share laughter, tears, hugs and stories along the way with others whose lives have been affected by cancer.

“This event has been so successful over the past 12 years because of the remarkable people who want to see an end to cancer,” said Donnelly Wolf, a junior marketing major and president of CCU’s chapter of Colleges Against Cancer (CAC). “Relay For Life brings people together. Together, we can do something remarkable: We can beat cancer.”

The CAC chapter stresses the importance of the American Cancer Society (ACS) and all the benefits and resources it provides for those impacted by cancer.

“The impact of raising money does so much in our fight,” said Matheny. “It provides funding for research to find a cure or treatments for the disease, and we also raise money for the programs and services we offer.”

Benefits range from free housing during extended treatment, rides to and from chemotherapy, free wigs and caps, support groups, and cancer research. ACS also partners with hotels to provide discounted or free places during stay while receiving treatment.

“Patients who receive radiation have to have it five days a week for up to nine weeks,” Matheny said. “Can you imagine having to find a place to stay or commute every day in order to get treated?”

The chapter set an annual goal this year of $100,000 by April 8, and as of Thursday afternoon had raised more than $85,000 toward that goal. Teams are formed months in advance and raise money throughout the year. According to the chapter’s Relay For Life page, Kappa Sigma and Gamma Phi Beta was the team that had raised the most, at $22,500.

Debbie Connor, vice president for student engagement at CCU, says reaching the million-dollar mark is a significant accomplishment for Coastal Carolina University’s Relay For Life, and she attributes it to the collaborative and engaging nature of the event.

“It has become the thing to do at Coastal,” she said. “Student organizations embrace it all year long. It is the one event that everybody comes together on, and it’s active and engaging.”

During the 12-hour event, teams walk the track and continue to raise money through various activities and initiatives. Each team always has a member actively walking the track throughout the event to signify that cancer never sleeps.

Individuals can also raise money for the cause. Travis Overton, CCU’s chief of staff, holds an event at Rotelli in Conway every year to raise money for Relay For Life in honor of his mother. He raised more than $3,500 this year.

“Raising money for Relay For Life is very personal to me, as it serves as a way to keep the memory of my mother alive,” Overton said. “Prior to her death in 2013, annual fundraising was a promise that I made to her, and it means so much that so many people donate to this effort every year!”

This year’s event is set for a noon start on April 7 at the University’s teal track on the main campus. The opening ceremony honors those who have been affected by cancer and those who contributed to the year’s event. The survivor/caregiver walk is at 5:30 p.m., and a luminaria ceremony will take place at 8 p.m.

The event ends at midnight, but activities are planned throughout, and the public is welcome to attend and walk around the track or to visit the booths that will be set up. The track is located on the main Conway campus across from Brittain Hall and adjacent to the HTC Student Recreation and Convocation Center.

“CCU Relay For Life is a public event,” Wolf said. “We welcome guests with open arms. This is not my event; this is EVERYONE’S event!”

Visit the event page at relayforlife.org/ccusc for additional details, to track the progress of funds raised, or to donate.

Social media handles: Twitter: @relayforlife Instagram: @relayforlife