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ACS confirms Doane as first college to 'Relay'

The American Cancer Society recently confirmed Doane College as the first collegiate Relay For Life event in the nation.

The University of Georgia was previously thought to be the first collegiate event in 2001, but Doane started Relaying in 1997 and has raised $580,938.77 since that time.

Last spring, Doane was second per capita in the nation in fundraising for schools with student populations between one and 2,499.

Ronda Bruns has been Doane’s ACS staff partner for the event for eight years and said she was elated to hear the announcement.

“It is a huge honor to be recognized as the first collegiate Relay,” Bruns said. “ The committee does a lot of fundraisers at school and in the community that are over and above their individual fundraising.”

Bruns said in 2003, Doane’s Relay For Life event raised $18,126 before raising $38,291 in 2006 and $60,745 in 2007. But the highest amount the college has raised since its beginning was in 2011 with $75,800.

Doane College has been ranked first in the ACS High Plains Division since 2007. The college was also ranked first in national fundraising in 2011 and 2012, when the college raised $63,500.

“The event really took off when we started to focus on getting staff and faculty and the community more involved in what we did,” Bruns said. “We also made it a priority to get the families of the students involved. By concentrating on these two things, our event went crazy in participation and in money raised.”

Bruns’ role in the program is to make sure rules and standards of the American Cancer Society Relay For Life are followed. She also suggests ideas and helps the student executive committee make smart decisions on fundraising events and activities along with campus advisor Jay Fennell. Doane students plan, organize and lead all activities.

Fennell says his position is “one of the best jobs in the world” because he gets to work with talented students to plan an event that is very important to him.

“My older brother lost a six-and-a-half year battle with cancer when I was 11. I pretty much grew up in a hospital around people with cancer or that were directly impacted by cancer,” Fennell said. “Advising Relay is one small way I can help.”

Executive committee member Gentry Doane ’14 said the team looks forward to another successful Relay.

“This year we have such an incredible exec team, and I think our close bond will be an invaluable asset to pulling off another successful Relay,” Doane said. “We are really trying to engage the community of Crete and get them to become more involved in the event. Some community members might think it is just an event for college kids, but that isn’t the case at all.”

Doane said he decided to get involved with Relay because he never had the chance in high school and he thought it was a great organization. His father also had lip cancer when he was young that was easily cured, but he said “that fear of something more serious is always present.”

“I also witnessed several role models in my community fight and, in some cases, lose their battles with cancer,” Doane said.

Bruns said the American Cancer Society is proud to have Doane College associated with Relay For Life and the future of the event looks to be a bright one.

“I hope that Relay For Life at Doane College continues to be the event to be involved in on campus,” Bruns said. “I know that Doane (College) has a goal to increase the number of students on campus...that is very exciting for the campus as well as for Relay For Life.”

Gentry Doane agreed.

“This event has a deep-seeded connection to this campus that I don’t foresee changing in the following years...I think our campus, and especially our exec committee, need to step back and look at the impact we’ve had against fighting for a cure and be proud of that,” Doane said. “In the realm of Relay For Life, Doane (College) is a well-known name.”

This year’s Relay For Life will take place in the newly renovated Fuhrer Field House on April 11, 2014.