|Brooke Mulford led the Survivor's Lap at SU's 2011 Relay For Life.|
SU Relay Co-Chair Casey Gaul recently accepted an award honoring the University for “Outstanding Administration Support” during the American Cancer Society’s South Atlantic Division Collegiate Awards Banquet, held in Greensboro, NC. Campuses were represented from seven states, including Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.
According to Debbie White, the Salisbury area community manager for the American Cancer Society, who nominated SU for the award, the University’s support for Relay begins at the top, with President Janet Dudley-Eshbach.
The President “sets the example on campus,” White said. “She welcomes open lines of communication between Relay leadership and herself. She is a fixture at Relay as opening speaker, welcoming and congratulating participants (students, parents, faculty, staff, alumni and community residents) and reminding us of her family’s personal connection to our mission.”
Gaul concurred: “The President is on our side. She’s absolutely on board and supports what we’re doing 100 percent.”
White and Gaul also lauded Dr. Rosemary M. Thomas, vice president of University advancement and executive director of the SU Foundation, Inc. Thomas is a member of the South Atlantic Division board of directors and the American Cancer Society’s Nationwide Leadership Training Team.
“Dr. Thomas embraces Relay, and specifically the Relay of SU, with a level of compassion unmatched by others,” said White. “It is to her that we give credit for the strength of Relay at Salisbury University. … Dr. Thomas serves as a mentor to the Relay committee, guiding when called upon. She gives the students the space they need to own the event and motivates them to success.
“She bleeds purple for SU and the nation, and she’s been Relaying since it all started in the early ’90s.” (Purple is the traditional color that represents Relay throughout the United States.)
Also honored in the nomination was Agata Liszkowska, international studies coordinator and SU’s Relay advisor since the event was first held in 2002. Since then, it has raised over $750,000 for the American Cancer Society.
“She’s been a cornerstone since our Relay’s inception, quietly and effectively enabling the committee to proceed with plans in an efficient manner, not to mention her overnight personal commitment to providing staff support and leadership,” said White. “She too has our mission at heart.”
Gaul echoed those statements, saying simply that without help from Thomas and Liszkowska, Relay would be a much tougher event to run: “While we’re out trying to raise money, they’re making sure everything is organized and [awareness of] our event is out there.”
In addition to accepting the award, Gaul was able to mingle with many of the estimated 1,000 other individuals who attended the banquet and leadership summit, gaining ideas she hopes to implement to make SU’s Relay even better. This year, for example, supporters may take up “canning,” seeking permission from local business owners stand outside their stores with donation cans to raise money for and spread awareness about cancer resources.
Though Relay itself lasts only one night, campuswide fundraising and awareness efforts continue year-round. In October, Gaul and her committee are commemorating National Breast Cancer Awareness Month with events including baked good and T-shirt sales, and information tables.
Other organizations support the cause, as well. The SU softball and volleyball teams recently raised more than $4,600 for breast cancer patient Jenny Zepp Varner as part of a “Pump for Jenny” silent auction fundraiser and donation drive at a volleyball game against the University of Mary Washington. Their ultimate goal is to raise $8,500 to purchase a Flexitouch System pump, which will help Varner fight stage three cancer.
For Gaul, that personal connection, focusing on how cancer affects individuals instead of seeing it as an abstract disease, is what matters most. The Hagerstown, MD, resident first became involved in Relay by forming a team in high school after two students there were diagnosed with a rare bone cancer.
Upon enrolling at SU, the elementary education major wanted to become more involved, so she joined the University’s Relay committee. This year, the sophomore was invited to co-chair with veteran Maggie Sullivan—a task with which she could not be more thrilled.
“I am so inspired by the American Cancer Society and its mission,” she said. “I can’t wait for Relay 2012.”
For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Relay Web site at www.relayforlife.org/su.