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​Catherine Ferris '13 shares why she participates in

the Relay For Life as part of a campaign to promote

the event.

​Colleges Against Cancer Raises Money, Awareness

Providence, R.I. — Providence College’s chapter of Colleges Against Cancer (CAC) has raised more than $600,000 for the American Cancer Society through its seven annual Relay for Life events to date to date, but members of the organization advocate for cancer awareness throughout the year.  

A large team of leaders is preparing for the chapter’s next Relay for Life on Friday, April 20 in the Peterson Recreation Center, just one of many initiatives the club organizes for cancer awareness. 

Relay for Life informs the public about cancer prevention, detection, and the funding needed to assist cancer patients and their families in Rhode Island communities. Last year, nearly 1,000 students joined teams and took turns walking around the track in the Peterson Center for 12 hours to raise money and awareness.

Catherine Gates, the College’s health education and wellness coordinator, advises the organization, while Kristen Maietta ’12 (West Islip, NY) serves as this year’s president.

As of Monday, 86 teams already had signed up with nearly 700 participants, Gates said, and she expects the numbers to grow.

 “Having seen the relay’s inception and the organization evolve to where it is today has been an honor,” Gates said. “I would say that this event is an honorable and worthy tradition here at PC.”

She explained how every student who has participated — whether in leadership or as a team walker — does so with a commitment to cancer awareness.

For example, CAC members encouraged students to participate in the “I Relay For” Photo Campaign to generate interest in the relay event.

Awareness: a year-long initiative

In addition to the Relay for Life Committee, CAC has three other general committees: advocacy, education, and survivorship. Last year, the chapter gained state wide recognition for its work in advocacy.

“CAC has won numerous awards both nationally and here at the College,” Gates said.

In November, the members were invited to the Rhode Island State House, where Susan Roberts, the director of government relations and advocacy for the American Cancer Society’s New England division, presented them with an award recognizing their dedication and commitment to end cancer through advocacy initiatives.

The Rhode Island American Cancer Society’s government relations department was especially impressed with the club’s work last April to defeat a bill that sought to lower the state’s tobacco tax.

CAC members gathered 850 signatures at last year’s relay and presented them to State Rep. Daniel Reilly ’11, who subsequently chose to remove his name from the bill.  

In February, the chapter received the 2012 American Cancer Society Sandra C. Labaree New England Volunteer Values Award, one of 45 individuals and chapters in the region to be honored.

The organization also hosts various educational events.

For example, CAC held the annual Breast Cancer Buffet in October, where local breast cancer survivor Susan Adler stressed the importance of self-exams.

In March 2011, CAC invited Meghan Rothschild to speak about her battle with melanoma at the age of 20, while cautioning students on the dangers of tanning.

“We found her story to be both powerful and very relatable to our student body. She also informed students on a number of tanning alternatives, including spray tanning and self-tanners. Meghan showed several self-tanning samples with reviews and ratings on each,” said Maietta.

“Our Survivorship Committee aims to honor and celebrate survivors and remember those we’ve lost,” she said. This semester, CAC will visit the Hope Lodge, a housing facility for cancer patients undergoing treatment in Boston.

Gates said, “It does so very closely, especially more defined within the strategic plan of preparing students for lives of meaning and purpose.”

This year’s Relay for Life will be held Friday, April 20 in the Peterson Recreation Center. The opening ceremony begins at 6:00 p.m., and the event continues until 6:00 a.m. Saturday, April 21. For more details, go to www.main.acsevents.com.

— Genevieve Marie Ilg ’14

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