Colleges Against Cancer to host Relay for Life kick-off

By Felix Sarver

Registration for Relay for Life this year will begin Wednesday.

Colleges Against Cancer will host a “kick-off” from 4-7 p.m. at Neptune Hall. The event is a preview for Relay for Life and will provide games, free food, information on cancer and connection for people affected by cancer, said Ashley Wittemeyer, publicity chair for Colleges Against Cancer.

The Hollywood red carpet is the theme for the preview this year, Wittemeyer said. In the past the Relay for Life planning committee, which is comprised of many members of Colleges Against Cancer, chose Wizard of Oz, the 1980s and Around the World as the themes for the kick off. Themes are decided for how many activities they can inspire, Wittemeyer said.

Relay for Life, which will be held on April 21, is a fundraising effort for the American Cancer Society. Participants walk around a track for 12 to 24 hours, said Lisa Mayes, senior rehabilitation services major. The event represents the persistent nature of cancer.

“Cancer never sleeps,” Wittemeyer said.

During the event participants can make donations and sign up for volunteer positions. Prizes are awarded to donors and include t-shirts, jackets, fleeces, alarm clocks and backpacks, Wittemeyer said.

Colleges Against Cancer raised $65,000 last year for Relay for Life event. Over the past decade the group raised $500,000 in total for Relay for Life fundraising. The group aims to raise $70,000 this year to donate to the American Cancer Society, Mayes said.

“We may not have a big event but I think we do make a difference,” Wittemeyer said.

The American Cancer Society provides patient services such as drives to cancer treatments, advocacy and a cancer hotline, Wittemeyer said. Donations made to the society have funded the research of over 40 Nobel Prize laureates, Goldbeck said. They have also provided educational material for Colleges Against Cancer to use, Wittemeyer said.

Colleges Against Cancer is a student-run committee devoted to promoting cancer awareness. The committee began 10 years ago at NIU and the University of Illinois and now operates across hundreds of campuses.

“I personally think everyone in some shape or form has been affected by cancer,” Mayes said.

Meghan Goldbeck, administrative assistant for the American Cancer Society, spoke on behalf of Brittany Gitner, the staff partner of Colleges Against Cancer. Gitner said the group aims to eliminate cancer through research and education.

“We can’t do that without volunteers and donation dollars,” Goldeeck said.