Annual fundraiser fights to “Give Cancer the Boot”

Melissa Nichols of Glasgow, left, and Sue Lynn McDaniel of Bowling Green, two cancer survivors, are cheered on for overcoming their struggle during the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life on Friday, Oct. 14, at Downing Student Union.

Miles Schroader

Kentucky has the highest rate of new cancers as well as the highest death rate for all cancers combined in the United States, according to an online resource provided in 2013 by the Kentucky Cancer Consortium. To “Give Cancer the Boot,” the American Cancer Society held a Relay for Life on WKU’s campus Friday night.

“Every year I get to learn about how cancer affects everyone as a whole,” Owensboro grad student Joseph McCarty said. “I think when you get together with things like this you see how it’s relevant. You hear about it, you see it, but to see it like this, it really puts a number on how many people are affected by it.”

The American Cancer Society’s goal is to ensure those lost to cancer will not be forgotten. The organization strives to support individuals battling cancer, and seeks to one-day eliminate cancer, according to its website.

Over 1.5 million new cancer cases are diagnosed each year in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society, a number the society is seeking to change.

At Friday night’s relay, people could contribute with a cash donation or by entering a raffle, participating in a corn-hole tournament, and helping spread awareness by using a photo booth and sharing their picture on social media.

“I think the community support helps a lot,” Bowling Green grad student Rebecca Lauth said. “Just knowing that people are here for you and your community is here for you when you’re going through a hard time.”

Lauth said her motivation for getting involved with Relay for Life came from her sorority sister, WKU alumna Lauren Osbourne, who has gone through cancer treatment twice.

“By coming here, you show your support to the survivors and let them know that we are out there supporting them,” Grace Lartey, associate professor of public health, said. “Treatment is so expensive; whatever money you donate goes to saving a life.”

According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, newly approved cancer drugs cost an average of $10,000 per month; some reach $30,000 per month.

Lartey said donations from the event could even help people on WKU’s campus. Anyone can get cancer at any age, and some are not fortunate enough to survive.

Cancer hit very close to home for Memphis, Tennessee, senior Anna Paschall, whose boyfriend died from cancer in May.

“Ever since I had been personally affected by it, it’s really opened my eyes to everything,” Paschall said. “Now I just want to do as much as I can and help people out, support the cause, and really educate people.”

“I just want survivors of cancer and people who are going through cancer to know that there are people who support them, so for me, it’s really about being a support system,” Louisville grad student Mollie Berger, president of the Kentucky Public Health Association, said.

The next event WKU Relay for Life will host is a 5k “Pink in the Park” run/walk at the Hot Rods Ball Park on Saturday, Oct. 29 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The following Thursday, they will host a fundraiser at Chipotle on Scottsville Road from 5-9 p.m. 

Reporter Miles Schroader can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected].