SU Relay For Life Raises Record-Breaking $107,000
SALISBURY, MD---The young woman, moved by emotion, leaned her head on Salisbury University President Janet Dudley-Eshbach’s shoulder. Quietly, the president gave her a comforting hug and the two walked together. What they and those behind them shared transcended words--grief over lives touched and ended by cancer.
The President, whose brother died last year of melanoma, was leading a group of 75 around the University’s intramural track in what is called the survivor’s lap. They included those who have recovered from cancer and the people who have supported them in their struggle. The survivors, wearing purple sashes and white mums, walked with students, family, friends and local residents. With smiles and some tears, a crowd of 1,500 gathered as the sun set to applaud the walkers as they passed.
Before dawn of the next day, this lap, the first of the evening, would be followed by countless others, and the rural campus of less than 7,000 students on Maryland’s Eastern Shore would raise over $107,000 for the American Cancer Society—placing it among the top three universities nationally that have held Relays For Life so far in 2005. Only Yale University ($116,435) and Cornell University/Ithaca College ($110,473) have raised more, according to online fundraising figures (www.acsevents.org/surelay).
“What these students have done is nothing short of a miracle in both participation and donations,” said SU Vice President of Advancement Rosemary Thomas. A former member of the Mid-Atlantic Relay For Life Advisory Council, she has been involved in Relay since the death of her maternal grandmother in 1990.
The first SU relay was held four years ago and struck a chord with the campus community. The Eastern Shore has some of the highest cancer rates in Maryland, if not the country, according to the Maryland Community Health Administration. In 2003 SU’s Relay for Life was the tops in campus relays per capita (the amount of money raised based on student population), according to Jason Copley, a senior from Frederick, MD. That year the amount was $4.97 per student. In 2004, SU Relay doubled participation, increasing donations to $43,000 and was honored by the University as its best student organization. This year, Copley credits a hi-tech and hi-touch approach for the remarkable advance. (Some 900 students or one in eight across campus were team members. Money raised per student is estimated at $15.45.) Copley, who has worked with the event all four years and has been co-chair for the last two, credits Brittany Hulme with creating the campus’s first Relay Web site which linked to the American Cancer Society, and Katie Spangenberg and Jessica Mullins for making personal contact with every student club or organization on campus (some 130).
The result was an evening of emotion when more than 200 luminaria and torches were lit in memory of those taken by cancer , followed by joyous celebrations of survivors and life. Karaoke, punk rock, barbershop and old-fashioned acoustic guitar provided a sound stage throughout the night for a village of some 150 tents surrounding the track where students sponsored everything from crazy hair and cartwheel laps, to a kissing booth (chocolate kisses), miniature golf, a rubber duck dive, dance demonstrations, limbo contests, dodge ball, kickboxing, field hockey games and food galore—anything to raise money and spirits.
For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu.