By Kelcey Norris
According to breastcancer.org, one in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives. Every member of Youngstown State University’s Guins Against Cancer has an affected family member in mind inspiring them to work year-round to raise funds for cancer research and treatment.
Newly re-imagined Guins Against Cancer, formerly known as Relay For Life, organizes fundraising events for the American Cancer Society and other local groups helping cancer patients and families.
Julia Helke, a junior social work major, is an event leader for Guins Against Cancer. She said for the month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, they’ve set up a table in Kilcawley Center for donations and activities.
“We switched our name to Guins Against Cancer because we want to be more broad on campus and help out other organizations,” Helke said. “This week, we’re tabling with Zeta Tau Alpha and helping them with their pink week. 100% of our proceeds go to the American Cancer Society.”
Daniel Yoder, a sophomore computer information systems major, manages the group’s social media accounts and website. He said one of YSU’s most iconic couples will also be partnering with them Oct. 27.
“We’re actually getting Pete and Penny, and they’re going to be wearing bras, and people can stuff the bra with money that they want to donate to breast cancer,” Yoder said. “We’re also doing ‘bra pong,’ and there’s plinko. Starting this week, we’re making cards and care packages for the breast cancer center in Youngstown.”
To celebrate Halloween, Yoder said they are also selling some spooky apparel to “Boo! your friends.”
Guins Against Cancer prepares all year for their biggest event, the Relay for Life, held in the WATTS Center in the spring. Last spring, the event was held virtually, which didn’t hamper the organization’s ability to raise over $30,000.
“Last year was my first Relay,” Yoder said. “Just raising over $30,000 was a real huge impact that I saw just because I was there throughout the whole thing, and I got to see every dollar of that raised. It was a huge impact, it was incredible … All of this goes to a great cause and really it just takes people who want to show up.”
Caitlyn Risley, a junior criminal justice major, is an event leader for Relay for Life. She explained how participants are able to raise the funds as a community.
“It’s eight hours … and we walk around the track to raise money to help fund research for ACS. It’s just supposed to be a lot of fun and we have some serious moments in there where we do some stuff for survivors and those fighting now,” Risley said. “But we just raise awareness all year round and fundraise until the event.”
Risley said their other fundraising efforts come from selling Handel’s Ice Cream pint cards, T-shirts and gift cards. The organization is planning to hold Relay for Life April 13, either fully virtually or in the WATTS Center with livestream options available.
“We do what’s called a luminaria ceremony, and that part will be online no matter what, because we want our online viewers to be able to see it, and we know a lot of survivor’s are not going to be able to come to the event because of their immune systems,” Risley said. “So, we’re going to still have a lot of it online through our Facebook page, which is Relay For Life at Youngstown State University.”
Guins Against Cancer is more than just an organization for its members. After losing her aunt to breast cancer, Helke said she turned to the group for support.
“A lot of people, pretty much everyone, who was involved has been affected by cancer. So it was really nice to have them during that time and relate to them,” she said. “Then, the more I got involved, the more I really enjoyed it. I really enjoy raising money for a good cause and I hate to see people go through what we went through.”