Kicking cancer's butt

UB raises cancer awareness through kickball tournament

The Spectrum

It was a brisk Saturday morning as hundreds of students stood in anticipation - teams formed and were ready for a full day of kickball.

This was the start of the fourth-annual Save Second Base kickball tournament, sponsored by the organization UB Colleges Against Cancer. The event began in 2009 and has since gained more recognition each year.

This event is one of several held across campus to raise awareness and money for diseases such as breast cancer. Last year alone, UB Relay for Life raised over $87,000 and seeks to almost double that amount this year with $150,000.

Every dollar raised last year went to Roswell Park Cancer Institute, according to Seda Donmez, a freshman pharmacy student and member of the E-board for UB Relay for Life.

Save Second Base has continued to grow every year. With new organizations signing up to participate each year, event volunteers and E-board members continue their efforts to recruit more people and promote the event as much as possible, according to Yasmine Gohary, a student assistant for New Student Programs and an E-board member for UB Relay for Life.

"I've been working with UB Relay for Life since my freshman year and we've definitely come a long way," Gohary said. "To see the people with the diseases that we're raising money for and what they go through is really hard, but to know were doing something positive for them is so great."

As the fundraising kicks off, the members of UB Relay for Life promote the club and try to give every member of the UB community a chance to get involved with the various charities.

UB Relay for Life hopes to get more faculty and staff involved because, according to Donmez, people aren't aware it's not just a student event.

Many fraternities and sororities were present for the event. Other organizations also participated, such as the men's and women's swim teams.

Kelsey Barbour, a member of the women's swim team and junior speech and hearing science major, attended the event for personal reasons. In the summer of 2011, Kelsey was diagnosed with and treated for cancer.

"I kept being told the chance of this being cancer is .1 percent, so don't even worry," Barbour said. "I tried to keep my mind off of it with swimming and school but I was definitely stressed and overwhelmed at the time."

After her experience, Barbour said she now has a new outlook on charitable events such as Save Second Base and tries to help out in any way she can.

In addition to raising money for breast cancer, UB Relay for Life holds events to raise awareness for lung cancer.

"There is GASO - or the Great American Smoke out - where pharmacy students educate both smokers and non-smokers on the harms of judicious smoking," Gomnez said. "Also Bowling for Boobs, an event held at Tonawanda lanes that includes bowling for two hours as well as food for just $10."

The organization's advocacy has not only reached financial goals but also goals outside the university, Gomnez said.

Last year, the group sent various petitions to President Obama in pursuit of regulations on recreational tanning - tanning can lead to skin cancer. The group aided in banning girls under the age of 16 from going to tanning beds, according to Gomnez.

"Every month is devoted to a different type of cancer, so we're just trying to put on as many events as possible to let everybody know that we're here and that it's so easy for students to band together to do something big," Gomnez said.

Gomnez and the other E-board members are attempting to make UB Relay for Life an instrumental force not just raising money for breast cancer, but for all major forms of cancer.

"Within the past month of school, we've already raised about $1,000 for the organization so we're really optimistic about this year and really trying to reach that goal of $150,000 before the year is out," Gomnez said.