The American Cancer Society Relay for Life on campus March 26–27 raised nearly $14,500, exceeding the college’s ambitious efforts during its first year in the program, last year, by close to $2,000. Spearheaded by students and staff, the event collected money for cancer research through donations, related fundraisers, and pledges for laps by 13 teams around Mary Baldwin’s Physical Activities Center track.
The event has grown in popularity and scope. Students in every class as well as alumnae/i, staff, faculty, friends, family and community members took part this year. Close to 175 participants transformed the track into a temporary campsite, stage and conversation area for the 12-hour overnight walk-a-thon.
The presence of cancer survivors — many of whom share their stories — is an integral part of the fundraiser. Mary Baldwin students, staff members, and alumnae who have beaten or are living with cancer joined in the Survivor’s Walk at the start of the event. Christina Samuel ’07, Elizabeth May ’06, Vice President of Business and Finance Jane Pietrowski, Executive Director of Alumnae/i Activities Lynn Gilliland, and alumna Judy Armstrong ’58 were some of the participants in the walk.
“We talk a lot about how cancer affects everyone, but I never thought it would be me,” said Gilliland, who was diagnosed this year. “I came to the relay feeling kind of tired and down, and I left feeling supported and uplifted. It gave me very powerful sense of the family I have on this campus.”
The keynote address was given by John Kibler, Mary Baldwin professor of psychology. He spoke emotionally about his young daughter’s long struggle with cancer and the things she has taught him during her illness.
Mary Baldwin President Pamela Fox and Staunton Vice Mayor Dick Robinson also participated in the opening ceremony.
For weeks before the relay, the committee solicited area businesses, resulting in donations of food, door prizes, silent auction items, and raffle gifts, including framed prints by local artists P. Buckley Moss, Mary Ann Vessey, and Lisa Geiman.
As of closing ceremony time at the relay, junior Victoria TenBroeck was the top individual fundraiser with more than $1,500 in donations. The top fundraising team was Fishing for a Cure, which raised close to $4,200, and the team Buggin’ Cancer won recognition for the best team campsite.
The Mary Baldwin gathering was one of more than 3,000 Relay for Life events held in communities around the country. Last year, relays — signature events for the American Cancer Society — raised $212 million nationwide.
Donations can be added to Mary Baldwin’s relay fund until August 31. Checks are payable to the American Cancer Society, 1920 H. Medical Avenue, Harrisonburg, VA, 28801; make sure to write “Mary Baldwin University Relay for Life” in the memo line.