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UNC’s Relay for Life raises over $200,000 for American Cancer Society

Teams set up camp inside the Eddie Smith Field House.

Rosalinda Sollecito, a 24-year-old UNC graduate, was diagnosed with cancer in 1995.

Her father, Bill Sollecito, a professor at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, was also diagnosed with cancer in 1995.

They survived.

Both of them, along with Rosalinda Sollecito’s mother, walked in UNC’s Relay for Life Friday and Saturday for those who didn’t.

Bill Sollecito said his family has participated in the event in other places for 12 years — but UNC’s relay was especially important to the family.

“Having Rosalinda come in as a freshman a few years ago, it was great to have her be in a community like this,” he said. “It’s great to see these kids so involved.”

The 20-hour event at Fetzer Field raised $205,852.27 for the American Cancer Society.

Rosalinda Sollecito was dressed in a sash that read “Survivor” and her mother wore one that read “Caregiver” as they joined 74 survivors for the traditional survivor kickoff lap, braving thunderstorms and rain throughout the night.

“We knew it was going to rain at some point, so we decided to have people set up their tents and camps inside the Eddie Smith Field House,” said Coty Lee, event co-chairwoman.

When the rain began, students flocked inside and continued the event in the field house, where the luminary ceremony was held about 20 minutes later than scheduled.

Electronic candles and glow sticks served as substitutes to the saturated luminaries, Lee said.

Wanda Boyette, who is battling cancer for the third time, gave a message of hope at the survivor banquet.

“I know a lot of people are scared about being weak,” she said, “but God tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that being weak is a show of how strong you are.”

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