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Olivet students join the fight against cancer
Apr 24, 2013

By Kelly VanRyswyk, senior

Olivet College joined the fight against cancer during the annual Relay for Life March 27. The event, which usually takes a full 24 hours, was condensed into a four-hour program at the Cutler Event Center. Staff and students joined residents of the Olivet community in showing their support for cancer research and awareness. According to the American Cancer Society, each year more than 4,000,000 people in more than 20 countries take part in this global phenomenon and raise much-needed funds and awareness to save lives from cancer.

The Criminal Justice Program set the bar on student participation, selling food and T-shirts for the cause. “It’s usually the criminal justice honor society that plans the event, but we like to get everyone involved,” said vice president of the honor society, Emily Koebel, senior. “We designed and bought the shirts and the tie-dye stuff, and the food actually got donated this year. So that was really nice.” Relay T-shirts sold at the event featured names in honor and in memory of Olivet’s loved ones who battled cancer.

Other student organizations who participated in Relay for Life included the Psychology Club, Gamma Iota Sigma (insurance, risk management and financial planning), Greek houses and independent student volunteer groups. The event featured activities such as face painting, relay races and a raffle for relay themed prizes. In addition, special laps such as skipping and hula hooping kept the energy flowing. There were also more serious laps of silence for those who died and celebratory laps for those who have survived.

One memorable lap was led by local cancer survivor Mary Jane Schriner. Schriner was all smiles as she led the students of Olivet in a “Harlem Shake” video lap. “I think she really enjoyed being there. She appreciated the support,” said Schriner’s grandson, Chris.

In addition to our student activities, the event also featured traditional Relay for Life events, such as the race around town for donations. For this event, a male member of each team ran around town dressed as a woman in order to “walk a mile in her shoes” and collected donations for cancer awareness. Winner, Troy Wilkins, sophomore, said he was happy to help and represent his team, Phi Alpha Pi.

“We brought back $52.63 and we told everyone we saw to stop by and come support the cause.” Wilkins, who lost both his uncle and grandfather to cancer, has participated in Relay for Life every year since 2005. “We usually go to Eaton Rapids, so it was nice that this one was so close.” When asked how he felt running around town in that dress, Wilkins laughed and said “I like making a fool of myself if it’s for a good cause. People are still laughing about it. Plus it’s good to be able to help people in need.”

Relay for Life is just one of the many community projects Olivet College is working to improve. The goal of the event’s organizers is to keep the event growing and continue to get the community more involved. “Overall, I’m happy with the turn out. I wish more people would have come from community and the school, but I’m happy we had lots of Greek support. And we made about $1,000 for the cause,” said Koebel. All profits from Relay for Life will go toward cancer research and awareness.

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