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Relay For Life Aims To 'Change The Channel On Cancer'

March 28, 2011
SHSU Media Contact: Meredith Mohr

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Phi Sigma Pi shows their support for cancer awareness during last year's Relay for Life at Bowers Stadium. —Submitted photos.

As the sun sets on the day of April 29, teams for this year’s Relay for Life at Sam Houston State University will start gathering around the field at Bowers Stadium with lawn chairs and beach towels. They’ll set up colorful headquarters with the track surrounding them – the same track where they will celebrate their victories against cancer, remember their loved ones who fought so hard, and vow to keep up the fight for 12 hours through the night.

Colleges Against Cancer, the organization committed to fighting the disease and the group behind the scenes on Sam Houston’s part in the national Relay for Life event, will lead the Bearkat community in its cancer fighting efforts. This year's theme is "Changing the Channel on Cancer."

Event chair Kalyn Cavazos said Relay for Life is the biggest fundraiser that is hosted around the world for The American Cancer Society.

“Being able to participate in such a great cause is a reward in itself,” Cavazos said. “Knowing that I am helping patients right this moment by participating in the relay and raising funds for the American Cancer Society is very rewarding. I look forward to even more years participating in this event.”

Vicki Barrilleaux, Colleges Against Cancer sponsor, said team participation has more than doubled and the amount of money raised last year was three times the amount of money raised at the first relay in 2006.

Last year’s event raised more than $30,000 for The American Cancer Society. The goal for this year is $40,000. This event is one of the top fundraising events on campus, raising more money than any other single event run by a student organization, according to Angie Taylor, associate director for Student Activities.

“After attending a program introducing college students to Colleges Against Cancer, an organization within The American Cancer Society, Krystle Foss began a chapter of this organization on the campus of Sam Houston State,” Barrilleaux said.

Barrilleaux’s involvement in Colleges Against Cancer and the Relay for Life event is motivated by a desire to give back after she had colon cancer.

“The purpose of the relay is three fold, ‘Celebrate, Remember and Give Back,'” Barrilleaux said. “Throughout the evening we give back by not only raising funds but also promoting awareness.”

“During my treatment for stage III colon cancer, I read Lance Armstrong's book ‘It's Not about the Bike.’ In the book he talked about how there is an obligation of the cured to give back. By participating in a fundraiser for an organization that was a major resource for me, I am able to fulfill that obligation.”

Games and other activities are part of the Relay for Life event.

For Cavazos, participating in the Relay for Life also has a personal tie and is one of the reasons she is so involved in Colleges Against Cancer.

“Relay for Life and Colleges Against Cancer has been kind of my therapy for dealing with my aunt’s cancer,” Cavazos said. “My aunt has been my hero since I was a little girl and in 1999 she was diagnosed terminally with cancer. One of my best friends mom passed away from breast cancer our senior year. Cancer has affected my life in multiple ways through many different people. Relay for Life is a way to celebrate our survivors and remember those we have lost.”

During the year, there are other fundraisers for Colleges Against Cancer, such as T-shirt sales and raffles.

“All funds raised by this campus organization go to The American Cancer Society,” Barrilleaux said. “The major fund raiser is Relay for Life. That night many teams sell food, T-shirts, and relay items.”

Cavazos said that the event is one that emphasizes community and is a great and fun way to make a difference on campus.

“If you are someone who wants to make a difference, Relay For Life can help you achieve this goal,” Cavazos said. “Together each Bearkat can make a difference, and we can come together as a campus community to help fundraise for such a worthy cause.”

For more information, contact Cavazos at krc021@shsu.edu or visit www.relayforlife.org/samhoustontx.



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