Relaying a message

UB Against Cancer prepares for Relay for Life

On February 20, 2014

  • Next week, UB Against Cancer (UBAC), a campus organization that aims to fundraise and increase awareness about cancer, is holding Relay Kickoff Week. The week will be a precursor to the group’s signature event, Relay for Life, which will take place from 6 p.m. April 11 to 6 a.m. April 12. Above. Teams participate in UBAC’s Relay Kickoff for Life last year.

Maureen McCusker thinks we all have a special power.

This year, her organization, UB Against Cancer (UBAC), has a catchphrase: "Everyone can be a hero."

McCusker, the president of UBAC and a senior environmental geoscience major, has a series of events planned to raise awareness of all types of cancer. The organization, which is a chapter of the American Cancer Society's (ACS) Colleges Against Cancer program, plans to raise money to help those affected by cancer.

McCusker's soon-to-be father-in-law was diagnosed with prostate cancer six years ago. Recently, it metastasized, but McCusker said he is doing well. She stressed the idea that everyone can make a difference, and that is why UBAC chose a "superhero" theme for all its events this year.

UBAC runs under the Center for Student Leadership and Community Engagement. The group has about 35 active members. Next week is Relay Kickoff Week, when UBAC will start to fundraise and prepare for its biggest event, Relay for Life.

From 6 p.m. April 11 to 6 a.m. April 12, teams will fill Alumni Arena and walk to raise money for the cause.

"The event is more than just about cancer - it is about uniting people from different backgrounds, coming together as one student body," McCusker said.

Kelsey Barbour, UBAC's vice president of missions and a senior health and human services major, said Relay for Life is the group's highlighted event.

In 2011, Barbour was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She has been cancer-free since June 2012. To her, being part of the organization holds a special significance.

She said the reason for the overnight event is simple.

"Cancer never sleeps," she said. "So we fight all night long."

Genna Imbrenda, UBAC's vice president of special events and a junior business major, said cancer is something that affects everyone. She knew a few people in her church community who passed away from cancer.

She hopes more students will get involved.

"A lot of students don't know what Relay for Life is," Imbrenda said. "We would have more teams if people knew what it was. We are trying to spread the word."

On Tuesday, UBAC is holding a "Heart of the Matter" event to inform the UB community about the various types of cancers that exist.

"A lot of times when there is a cancer event, it's focused on one certain kind of cancer," Barbour said. "But this event raises awareness of all the different types of cancer."

At 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, the group is hosting an event at Skyzone in Cheektowaga, where students can participate for $14. UBAC is busing students to the event for an additional $5.

From March 3-7, UBAC is hosting a "Purple Blitz." They will be handing out "relay swag" - gifts and treats from ACS promoting the Relay for Life event. They will also be having a bake sale and a bowling event to market the club and fundraise.

Imbrenda feels that if people realized how fun Relay for Life is, more students would attend.

For her, the highlight of the event is the Luminaria - a moment when the lights are turned off and Alumni Arena is lined with "Luminaria bags," lit with electric candles or glowsticks. Participants design the bags to remember and honor someone who has been affected by cancer.

McCusker and her e-board members encourage students to join and create a team on UB's event page on the Relay for Life website.



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