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UNC Relay for Life sets personal goal to raise $210,000

Members of UNC's Relay For Life executive and planning committees met on Thursday night to set up for Relay For Life on Friday.
Members of UNC's Relay For Life executive and planning committees met on Thursday night to set up for Relay For Life on Friday.

At 9 p.m., junior Sarah Anderson will light a candle in a white bag with her grandmother’s name on it.

As part of the Luminaria Ceremony at this year’s Relay for Life, participants can light white bags in honor of those who have passed away from cancer or purple bags for those still living with the disease.

Though her nana lost a fight with colon and ovarian cancer a year and a half ago, Anderson said she tries to celebrate her life and honor her memory by raising money and participating in the event.

“Knowing how much my nana is smiling down on me and is proud of me for what I’m doing makes it all worth it,” she said.

Anderson is not alone. Katherine O’Neill, co-executive director of the event, said she is hoping for a turn-out of approximately 2,000 participants.

Sponsored by the American Cancer Society, Relay for Life is a 20-hour event to raise money for research and awareness of those who have battled cancer.

“Since cancer never sleeps, neither do we,” O’Neill said.

Vice director Will Yokeley said the American Cancer Society sets a fundraising goal for each school.

The American Cancer Society set a goal of $197,000 for UNC’s event, but the directors said they set their own goal of $210,000.

O’Neill said the event has already raised the majority of its target amount and is on track to reach the goal.
She attributed the success to the increase in events both on and off campus, including collaborations with the senior class, a benefit gala and a silent auction.

“We really strive to keep things new and creative and exciting,” O’Neill said.

“It’s a common misconception that Relay is one weekend during the year, but in order for us to uphold the ACS’ mission and achieve the highest fundraising possible, we really like to have everyone having fun throughout the year.”

Co-executive director Eyerusalem Tessema, who became involved with Relay for Life after her mother’s death, said she has another special reason to participate this year as her aunt recently lost an eight-year battle with breast cancer.

She said she is looking forward to sharing the experience with her two siblings and showing them others who can relate to what they have gone through.

In line with this year’s outer space theme, organizers of the event created the slogan, “One small step for Relay, one giant leap for a cure.”

“We’re doing just one relay here on our campus,” O’Neill said. “But in the grand scheme of things, it’s still making a tremendous impact to find a cure.”

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