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CCU Atheneum: Travis Overton, right, with his mom Angela Murray and brother Chris. Overton shaved his head in support of his mom, who is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.
Travis Overton, right, with his mom Angela Murray and brother Chris. Overton shaved his head in support of his mom, who is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.

CCU laces up for its largest fundraising event

by Russell Alston
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The motivation that makes people lace up their shoes and walk throughout the night for Relay for Life varies from person to person, but most do it in support of a friend or family member who has been touched by cancer.

Coastal Carolina University Dean of Students Travis Overton relays for his mother, Angela Murray, who fought and defeated colon cancer years ago. She is now facing her second fight with the disease, this time in her lungs.

Overton has been involved with Relay for Life since its inception at CCU in April 2007.

“I had the opportunity to see amazing students like Todd Harwell and Marianne Long work with so much passion to start Relay for Life CCU,” he says. “Our students created such an amazing environment with the event that Relay for Life simply became a community expectation. My mother is a fighter and is doing great."

Overton shaved his head in support for his mom, who lost her hair after chemotherapy treatments. “But she will not fight alone. We are now working to fight lung cancer.”

Vinnie Basiliko relays in memory of his mother, who lost her two-year battle with breast cancer in July 2009, an aunt who fought and beat breast cancer and another relative who is currently fighting the disease. The marketing graduate (’12) raised more than $9,000 for cancer research for last year’s relay.

“Those are the people I relay for,” he says. “And I will continue to relay for them every year.”

His sister, CCU senior psychology major Amber Basiliko, relays for “one of the greatest friends I’ve ever known,” Matt Beck. She also relays for her uncle Mike and her mother and her grandmother. She raised $8,000 last year and currently has $7,015 worth of donations for 2013's Relay.

“I never want anyone to go through what my family has,” she says. “I will fight to the end, until we start hearing the word 'cure' instead of cancer.”

The late Shawn R. Ponton relayed for his mother, who is battling cancer. The CCU biology major singlehandedly raised more than $2,000 last year in the American Cancer Society’s quest to find a cure. A car accident on Nov. 17, 2012, tragically claimed Ponton’s life, but fundraising efforts continue in his memory. He is currently in second place at CCU, with donations totaling $3,860.

“It’s incredible to think that each year he will continue to fight for his mom through Relay for Life, even if he isn't here to do it himself,” says Jamie O’Connell, Ponton’s friend and one of the organizers of the Shawn R. Ponton Memorial Car Show. Their new event is being held on Sunday, March 3, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the U.S. 501 overflow parking lot behind Baxley Hall.

These are the voices of CCU students who have accepted the challenge—to furnish funds to find a cure for a disease that claimed more than 570,000 lives last year.

CCU’s largest philanthropy event, Relay for Life, takes place on Friday, April 5, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. on the track adjacent to Penny Hall. Registration is still open.

Entertainment and food will be provided during the 12-hour event, as volunteer teams walk, jog and run for donations. All proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society. In 2011, Relay for Life CCU raised $87,162 for cancer research. Last year’s relay totaled more than $100,000, earning CCU third place on the list of top schools in the nation for dollars raised per student.

For 2013, 48 teams including CCU’s Women’s Resource Center, Leadership Challenge, Students Taking Active Responsibility (S.T.A.R.), 14 Greek organizations and more (totaling 509 participants), have already raised more than $40,000. These numbers are growing daily, so it’s not too late to join the cause.

To register a team or join an existing relay team, contact Jimmy Marino or Kelly Sullivan at 843-655-6672, or visit

For information on Relay For Life, email Samantha Goodman, Relay For Life recruitment chair, at


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