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Relay kick-off April 3

By Staff | Mar 27, 2009

Patt Welsh is one of Jefferson County’s cancer survivors and a participant in the Relay for Life.

Shepherd University will host its 6th Annual Relay for Life fundraising event for the American Cancer Society on April 3. The event will kick off with the Survivor’s Torch Run through Shepherdstown at 4 p.m.

Since starting with a small group of 50 in 2003 Shepherd University has raised more than $215,000. In 2008 alone, Shepherd raised $75,000 and has twice ranked sixth in the nation among schools its size for money raised. SU has raised more money than WVU. This year’s goal is to raise $85,000 and to have 800 participants.

“Paint the town purple” began in March. It allows the community, for a small fee, to put a ribbon on their door showing their support for the fight against cancer.

Hilary Miller, chemistry major, is the chair of the Relay for Life committee. Miller became involved with the fight against cancer after she lost her grandfather to cancer when she was a senior in high school.

During her interview with the Chronicle she looked at her cell phone to check the latest update on the Relay website, noting “54 times registered, and $11,552 raised” with a big smile as she explained “it’s the only page I have book-marked.” Part of the reason this is an all-night event is because it mirrors the struggle with cancer. First, the dark of night symbolizes the diagnosis, pain and suffering stage. Then, the dawn symbolizes the light and the hope a person has. “This event is a great way to show that college students can come together to do something good,” Miller said.

Many businesses and organizations from the town and surrounding area are involved with this event, such as church groups, Shepherdstown Elementary, Ranson Elementary, and Shepherd Alumni Association. Charles Town Races & Slots donates food for the event.

One of the teams that is formed every year is called “Maggie’s Team” in remembrance of a Shepherd alumnus who lost the battle to cancer.

Miller said the current economic recession won’t hinder her efforts.

“The economy is always a concern, but I believe that people know that even though the economy may be poor, we still need the research,” she said “I believe that people will still donate.”

One in two men and one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.

Patt Welsh, who works for the IT services at Shepherd University, is a two-year breast cancer survivor.

She regularly received mammograms, which was the reason her doctor was able to detect a lump in breast. She received the phone call that told her it was indeed cancer on Sept. 11, 2006. Welsh remained positive, saying she kept a sense of humor through the whole fight.

She also stayed busy. Welsh writes for the Spirit of Jefferson newspaper, helps with 4-H, a attends classes at Shepherd University.

She explained that when she became ill that her co-workers and family were more than willing to help her so she didn’t have to do much, but her spirit and personality wouldn’t allow her to just sit still.

Welsh came back to work full-time in February 2007, just five months after her initial diagnosis. She also had the privilege of carrying the torch through German Street the past years which she said was a very a emotional moment “seeing all the people who clap for you, it’s a very rewarding experience.”

– Teams are still forming. For registration or any questions about Relay for Life, contact Hilary Miller at Hmille05@shepherd.edu or visit www.shepherd.edu and click on the Relay for Life link.