According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), more than one million people are diagnosed with cancer each year. Fighting this battle alongside cancer patients are hundreds of college chapters of the national organization, Colleges Against Cancer (CAC) across the nation. These college students, faculty and staff work together to try to eliminate cancer step-by-step, through programs, education and other awareness events.
Among these chapters striving to make a difference is the one here at UR. CAC president and junior Sheridan Finnie recognizes the passion needed to tackle this type of disease.
“Many of our members have been personally touched by cancer in both large and small ways,” she said. “Our mission as a group is very important to us and felt on an emotional level.”
This semester CAC has been bustling with activity in order to accomplish their mission of raising cancer awareness, supporting ACS and playing a role in the struggle to one day eliminate cancer. Their fall semester consists of three major events.
This past October, CAC sponsored Think Pink Week. The campaign’s goal was to educate the campus community about breast cancer and to raise funds for ACS. This involved numerous activities, including a “Think Pink” dinner in Douglass Dining Center.
On Nov. 15 is the Great American Smokeout, a national event started by ACS to encourage smokers to take a step toward a healthier lifestyle. CAC takes this event very seriously and continues to be a driving force behind an initiative for a smoke-free campus at UR.
“I hope the club will be involved in future implementation and outreach involving this initiative,” Finnie said.
This is a great example of how CAC also works outside of ACS to better the University and make a difference in the lives of students. According to ACS, tobacco is the “single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S.,” but is still used by more than 45 million Americans. This makes it a prime focus for CAC.
CAC also hosts “Shave to Save,” an event in which both male and female students can shave or donate their hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, where donated hair will be made into wigs for cancer patients.
A number of events happen throughout the school year, but CAC’s biggest fundraiser is Relay for Life. This 24-hour event sponsored by ACS “celebrates the lives of people who have battled cancer, remembers loved ones lost and fights back against the disease,” according their website.
This student-driven fundraising event unites communities across the nation and around the world. So far, the ACS has raised about $3 billion through Relay for Life.
“Last year at Relay for Life we raised over $60,000 and we raised the same amount the previous year,” Finnie said.
Students are anticipating this year’s CAC event with excitement. It will be CAC member and freshman Rachel Weitzner’s third time walking for Relay for Life.
“I walk in memory of my close friend who died of cancer two years ago,” she said. “Relay [for Life] helps me feel connected to her and many others who are currently fighting or have lost the batter against cancer.”
CAC also works to incorporate other campus groups into Relay for Life. For example, many a cappella groups come out to perform for the cause at some point during the night.
The event also consists of speakers, tournaments and other activities that celebrate those who have beaten cancer, honor those who haven’t and generate excitement for how far ACS and CAC have come in conquering this disease.
CAC itself has about 30 members who also participate in volunteer work with local organizations such as the Mount Hope Family Center and Gilda’s Club. In addition to Relay for Life, CAC usually sponsors a dodgeball tournament every spring to raise money for testicular cancer.
CAC packs every year with fundraising and awareness events and hopes to continue its tradition of fighting cancer on campus for years to come.
“In the future, I see CAC continuing to flourish and creat[ing] change on campus,” Finnie said.
Yoon is a member of
the class of 2016.