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UB to host eighth annual Relay For Life fundraiser

Personalized bags that hold candles are placed around the track as tributes to those whose lives have been affected by cancer.


Published March 28, 2013

When Julie Smith thinks of ‘a dollar and a dream,’ she’s not thinking of the popular slogan for the New York State lottery.

“I think of a dream of no cancer,” says Smith, an administrative assistant in the Center for Student Leadership & Community Engagement, who lost her both her best friend and her mother to renal cancer nine years ago.

She says she’s determined to find a cure for cancer during her lifetime and, as the adviser for the student organization UB Against Cancer and UB’s Relay For Life, she has devoted herself to raising money to fight the disease.

The Relay For Life movement began in 1985 when Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma, Wash., colorectal surgeon, walked and ran around a track for 24 hours to raise money for the American Cancer Society. The following year, 19 teams joined Klatt and took part in the first team relay event. Since then, more than 5,200 Relay For Life events across the country have raised more than $4.5 billion to fight cancer.

Funds raised at all Relay For Life events benefit the American Cancer Society’s programs and services, provided at no cost to patients, including “life-saving research done right here in Western New York,” Smith notes.

UB’s eighth annual Relay For Life fundraising walk will be held on April 12. The event, whose goal is to raise funds to spread awareness and educate the public about cancer, will take place in the main gym in Alumni Arena, North Campus.

Many activities have been planned for the 12-hour event.

UB’s Relay For Life will open at 6 p.m. with the Survivors Lap, during which all cancer survivors at the event take the first lap around the track to celebrate their victory over cancer while being cheered on by the other participants.

The Luminaria Ceremony at 9 p.m. remembers those who lost their battles to cancer, honors those who have fought cancer in the past and supports those whose fight continues. Candles are lit and placed inside personalized bags; the bags are placed around the track as tributes to those whose lives have been affected by cancer.

The Fight Back Ceremony at 1 a.m. inspires participants to come together to fight the disease.

Smith says that in keeping with this year’s theme, “Wish upon a Cure,” a special wishing ceremony will take place at 11:11 p.m., during which members of the UB community can write their wishes on stars.

In another cancer fundraising and awareness event, Campus Dining and Shops is collaborating with Hope Floats and Relay For Life to hold a chicken barbecue from noon to 4 p.m. April 12 outside Alumni Arena. Proceeds will benefit the Relay For Life.

The Relay For Life is open to all members of the UB community. Smith encourages cancer survivors to attend and provide photos of themselves and their caregivers for the Luminaria Ceremony.

“Although 12 hours seems daunting, faculty and staff can stay for as long as they would like, get involved and meet the students and help save lives,” she says. “Everyone in one way or another has been affected by this disease, so we are one community for one cause on one night.”

Smith also asked that faculty and staff “friend” the Relay For Life’s main group page on Facebook with more fundraising ideas and updates on group activities, as well as its friend page.

For more information or to register for the Relay For Life, go to the UB team’s website  or email