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UNC’s 13th annual Relay for Life begins today

While this might not be Kathleen Carswell’s first Relay for Life event, it will certainly be the most special.

The junior is personally dedicating this year’s event to her mother, who passed away from cancer six weeks ago, she said.

“I have a new outlook on Relay (for Life),” Carswell said. “It is that much more important to me.”

Carswell and more than 2,000 other students, faculty and community members will gather at Fetzer Field on Friday at 6 p.m. for the University’s 13th annual Relay for Life.

The 20-hour-long celebration ends a year-long fundraiser benefitting doctors’ cancer research through the American Cancer Society.

Coty Lee, event chairwoman for UNC’s Relay for Life, said UNC Hospitals is one of the major benefactors from the national organization. Last year, it received about $11.7 million, helping 28 doctors, she said.

“I like to stress this to people,” Lee said. “I want them to know this money comes close to home.”

She also said UNC is one of the few universities to hold a 20-hour Relay for Life event, while most other universities have 12-hour ceremonies, she said. Community members are more involved at the University than other institutions, she added.

Lee said UNC Relay for Life has raised about $160,000 so far, ranking it ninth among 548 collegiate participants in the organization.

Other top schools include Virginia Tech and James Madison University, she said.

“We are right on track compared to other years,” Lee said.

On-site fundraisers will bring in about $15,000, but the group’s total goal is $200,000, said Laura Calabretta, event co-chairwoman.

In past years, on-site fundraisers have included a team of boys painting nails for 50 cents, and teams selling Cook Out milkshakes, baked goods and burgers, Lee said.

Lee said this year’s entertainment will include an opening a cappella performance by The Achordants, along with a psychic, a caricature artist, a musician and performances by dance teams.

“I’m sure our entertainment committee also has some last-minute surprises,” Lee said.

UNC basketball player John Henson will host Miss Relay, where men compete as beauty queens. He also hosted last year’s contest.

Carswell said she is excited for Friday’s event, but knows it will be difficult.

“This year will be hard, but I will have a lot of friends supporting me,” Carswell said.

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