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Walkers to hit the trail for cancer research

By Staff | Mar 30, 2012

Submitted photo Elizabeth Hess and Patt Welsh, co-captains for the SU Survivor’s Team, guard their prize winning pot of chili.

Sixty-three teams, 813 participants and one goal: cure cancer. Shepherd University’s Relay For Life 2012 is set to be a monumental success. From students to survivors and everyone in between, Relay For Life unites people every year to help fight a disease that has touched so many lives. Shepherd University’s Relay For Life is always one of the biggest events on campus every year, and Shepherd has generated over $429,000 since first taking part in 2003.

Shepherd’s goal is to reach $80,000 this year. While this goal is ambitious, they have already raised $44,000. “We’ve raised so much and haven’t even set foot on the track,” Ana Manzano, Advocacy Chair and American Cancer Society Action Cancer Network worker, said in regard to the fundraising goal. “We have been working hard all year to make this happen.” Manzano alluded to something many do not realize, that a vast amount of fundraising actually occurs on-site at the event.

Though Relay For Life is typically held outdoors near the student center and midway, this year it will take place in the Shepherd Wellness Center. “In the past we’ve had issues with weather, causing us to move everyone during the event,” Manzano claimed. Manzano said that the committee for the event voted to hold it inside this year, creating a more tight knit community that will avert any bad weather. During relay, the wellness center will be holding zumba classes, opening the pool and even serving food to hungry relay-goers.

Students at Shepherd make up the majority of participants, however faculty and community members always have a strong showing. Along with the various teams representing different organizations and groups of students, Shepherd’s relay also has a team specifically for cancer survivors. According to Manzano, survivors have participated more than ever this year. In fact the survivor’s team, captained by Elizabeth Hess and Patt Welsh, recently won the Chili Cook-off fundraiser.

Welsh shared that the SU Survivors Team is in its first year at Shepherd.

“This year we survivors decided to give back and form a team,” Welsh said. Spearheaded by co-captains Elizabeth Hess (Telecommunications) and Welsh, the recruitment has been so successful there are a total of 19 at this time. One of the team’s highlights was entering the Shepherd Relay for Life “Chili Cook off” placing first out of 14 entrees.

“In addition we are in the “Pennies War” and at this time I heard in first place with over 8,000 pennies,” Welsh said. “As a survivor, I want to give back to all those who supported me through my treatments. I always say to everyone, ‘If I have touched one person then I have done my job.'”

Despite the limited confines of the Wellness Center, Relay For Life at Shepherd is set to have another great year. Community members are highly encouraged to come and participate. Be sure to bring your walking shoes, wallet, and drive to fight cancer. The event will be held from Friday, March 30 at 4 p.m. and last until 6 a.m. the next morning.