More than 1,000 students gathered Friday night to raise money and have a night of fun at Relay for Life. But for one student, the event meant more this year than she ever thought.
Last summer, prior to Michel’le Dauhtry’s sophomore year, doctors diagnosed her with leukemia.
Dauhtry, a sophomore tourism and hospitality management major, volunteered for Relay for Life last year, but at the time, she was unaware of the impact cancer would soon have on her life.
“I don’t know how many people here have had to consider writing a will,” Dauhtry said as she addressed the audience. “It’s not something you think about when you’re 18 years old.”
The 91 teams that participated crowded into the Student Pavilion for Temple’s sixth-annual Relay for Life event, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.
Throughout the night, at least one member from each team walked around an improvised track.
“I didn’t mind putting in the time for such an important cause,” said freshman Spanish education major Felicia Samuels.
A 20-member student committee, headed by senior public relations major Beth Davis, worked with American Cancer Society representatives to organize the fundraiser.
Nationally, Relay for Life events draw more than 3 million volunteers to thousands of relays across the country.
As of Friday, Temple students raised $28,000. Davis estimates the committee will be able to reach its goal of $40,000, as participants have typically continued to collect donations even after the event in past years.
Even though the ailing economy has forced people to be mindful of their spending habits, Davis said the economy will not have a huge effect on the fundraiser
“We’ll have a little bit of a problem, but not much,” she said, adding that much of the money comes from the $15 registration fee.
Several cancer survivors and doctors from the Temple Hospital Cancer Center attended the relay to open the event by walking the first lap around the pavilion, amid cheers from the volunteers.
Money donated through Relay for Life will help pay for cancer research to help patients like Dauhtry pay for treatment. It is not out of the ordinary for a single hospital bill for cancer treatments to cost more than $100,000.
Much of the donated money also stays local. In Pennsylvania, the American Cancer Society works to provide low-cost housing and transportation for patients who live far from where they receive their treatments.
The American Cancer Society also sponsors Colleges Against Cancer, which recently began a Temple chapter. The student organization’s primary function is to educate college students about cancer-related issues like patient advocacy legislation and the role of the American Cancer Society.
“A lot of people know [the American Cancer Society] is a great organization, but they don’t know what it does,” Davis said. “They’re a little apprehensive to donate if they don’t know what it’s for.”
Don Hoegg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.