By Amanda Joerndt
Relay for Life of Youngstown State University is in full swing promoting and engaging the community in its yearly event, raising money and awareness for the American Cancer Society.
The YSU chapter hosts its Relay for Life event with an achievable fundraising goal in mind. Last year, the organization exceeded its fundraising goal two times with $48,000 raised.
Approximately $4.1 billion has been invested in cancer research since 1946, and 8.5 million free rides have been provided to various cancer treatments, according to the American Cancer Society’s website.
Additionally, the American Cancer Society’s website states there have been 71,850 cancer cases in 2020 so far.
Devan Snyder, a sophomore biology major, is the co-event lead for Relay for Life and said in order to meet the large goal, fundraising opportunities happen around campus often.
One such opportunity is Paint Your Campus Purple, which helps engage the community for the upcoming Relay for Life event April 18.
“On Monday and [Tuesday], people were able to sign the rock if they’re in the fight against cancer,” she said. “We also are selling ‘Waddle for a Cure’ T-shirts, and we sold some of them a while ago, but we have a lot left over so we’re selling those at the table in Kilcawley.”
Snyder said the Relay for Life event is a nationwide initiative and one of the American Cancer Society’s biggest fundraisers.
“We have a bunch of teams there who are fundraising, and all of the money raised prior and at the event goes straight to cancer research and a bunch of services the American Cancer Society offers to patients and their families,” she said.
Along with reaching its $68,740 fundraising goal, the YSU chapter is hoping to sell more luminarias and place them around the track during the event, according to Snyder.
“It’s just a bag that people can buy and donate money. … It’ll be decorated in honor for anyone who has or is battling cancer,” she said. “At the event, we’ll have a silent lap honoring those luminarias, and people will just be walking around the lap crying.”
Katie Biller, a senior human resource management major, is the recruitment committee chair and said being a part of Relay for Life during her undergraduate years has helped her learn life skills during the event preparation.
“All of the time management has helped me stay focused and this year, I’ve really been using my time way better. … It’s really just been rewarding,” she said.
According to Biller, she joined Relay for Life to be a part of “something bigger” than herself.
“I didn’t realize exactly how much I was getting into, but I’m so thankful I did,” she said. “It was really just pure cooperation and just between the people I’ve met.”
Biller said the organization has undergone a transformation from her first year on the committee to now, her last semester.
“They were in the gym in Beeghly Center, and we were really small, didn’t really have a game plan,” she said. “It was crazy to see us raising $15,000 to $18,000 to almost $50,000 now.”
Gabriella Orenic, a freshman pre-med biology major, said even though everyone participates in Relay for Life for a different reason, the teams are all fighting for the same battle.
“We are fighting for a cure, but we all have our different stories and come from different reasons,” she said. “It’s nice to be able to raise money and feel like we’re making a difference.”