Running toward the cure

Sticking with the events “24 rule,” organizers hope to raise at least $24,000

The Relay For Life event at Fresno State is centered on the number 24.

The goal of the 24-hour walk is to have 24 teams and 2,400 Facebook fans raise $24,000 for cancer, said Chariya Newton, the senior Relay For Life manager.

Newton said the Facebook fans will represent the 2,400 college students that will be diagnosed with cancer this year. She said the 24-hour period represents a day in the life of someone with cancer.

“Cancer never sleeps, so we don’t either,” she said.

The event hits close to home for Newton, who first got involved with Relay For Life about 14 years ago.

Newton was a volunteer for the American Cancer Society, when she joined a team to support a coworker diagnosed with lung cancer.

Since then, she became an employee for the American Cancer Society when she was diagnosed with endometrial cancer in 2000. The cancer spread to her uterus, forcing her to have a hysterectomy.

“This year I celebrate 10 years of being cancer free,” Newton said.

The event is a fundraiser and a way to educate the college community about cancer, Newton said. The funds will benefit cancer patients and their families.

“Fresno State has an opportunity to educate college students about how to prevent cancer, create awareness, help raise funds towards research and help provide funds toward programs and services for cancer patients,” Newton said.

The American Cancer Society set the fundraising goal for $15,000, but Newton said organizers hope to raise at least $24,000 to keep with the “24 Rule.”

According to the Relay For Life website, the first relay was in May of 1985. Gordy Klatt, a surgeon, wanted to get more funds for the local American Cancer Society, so he spent 24 hours circling the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash.

He raised $27,000 during the first year from donations by nearly 300 friends, patients and family. Klatt then worked with a small committee to plan subsequent relay events that featured teams of runners and walkers.

During the first team relay in 1986, 19 teams raised about $33,000.

Ashley Lyons-Robinson, a business major at Fresno State, is the event chair for the Relay For Life event at Fresno State.

Lyons-Robinson said that teams camp out, walk the track, participate in activities and enjoy the music and entertainment throughout the day during the relay.

She said most relay events are community based, but this event is college oriented.

The money raised from the event will go to the American Cancer Society, which provides different services for cancer patients and their families.

“Ninety-two cents of every dollar goes to funding cancer research and providing services,” Lyons-Robinson said.

Each team must have at least one person on the track at all times for the entire 24-hour period.

The walk starts at 9 a.m. Saturday and ends at 9:30 a.m. Sunday. Registration begins at 8 a.m. Saturday. Lyons-Robinson said the event will finish with the fight back and closing ceremonies, which start at 9 a.m.

The event will be at the grassy area near the Science II building.

The event is hosted in conjunction with the American Cancer Society and Colleges Against Cancer. The organizations are also joining 367 colleges and universities across the nation to host relays on their campuses.

This is the first college Relay For Life at Fresno State, and it is just the beginning Newton said.

“It’s our inaugural event, so many more years to come,” she said.

So far, the event has 26 teams and more than $4,000, Lyons-Robinson said.

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