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Weekend Relay for Life 5K raises more than $2,100 for American Cancer Society

A 34-degree morning didn’t stop runners from participating in UNC’s inaugural Relay for Life 5K Saturday.

The Just Cure It 5K, a little more than 3 miles, was the first held by UNC’s Relay for Life. The run is part of a greater effort by the organization to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

The money raised from UNC’s Relay for Life will be allocated across the nation to serve various cancer needs — mainly research — said co-director and senior Will Yokeley . Yokelely said recipients will include UNC Hospitals, which will receive money from the American Cancer Society for research.

Saturday’s event raised more than $2,100 with 175 registrants paying $25 each.

The total amount raised for last year’s UNC’s Relay for Life event came to more than $170,000. Yokeley said the monetary goal is to beat last year’s total.

Teams will gather on Fetzer Field and walk the Belk Track March 28-29 to kick-off Relay for Life’s annual fundraising effort.

Senior Daniel Fenton , who chairs the community events committee, said the main purpose of the 5K was to expand the community involvement in the organization.

“We’ve been really pushing to expand Relay for Life outside of just the UNC community and really make it a Chapel Hill and Carrboro event. I’m hoping the 5K today helped accomplish that goal,” Fenton said.

Among those who participated were two 2011 UNC graduates. Chapel Hill residents and neighbors, Justin Tyler, who works in Durham, and Farrell Wiggins, who works with cancer patients at UNC Hospitals, finished the 5K.

“I’m just really into running,” Tyler said. He said that he participated in Relay for Life as an undergraduate.

“We ran from the cold,” he joked. “It’s a really great cause.”

While the national organization Relay for Life was started in 1985, UNC’s chapter began work in 1996. Yokeley said the event averages between 1,500 and 2,000 participants.

“The idea of the Relay is that someone on your relay team is walking throughout the entire time. Because cancer never stops, we don’t either,” Yokeley said.

Yokeley, who lost his sister to cancer in 2008, has participated in UNC’s Relay for Life since his freshman year. He said he joined because of the organization’s cause.

“Relay for Life was helping people who are fighting cancer, and I wanted to do it in honor of my sister,” he said.

During the main event, participants will gather to honor cancer survivors and those affected by cancer.

“It’s kind of hard moment for a lot of people because they’re reminded of the ones that they’ve lost. But we also honor them in that moment, and it’s really cool,” Fenton said.

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