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Doane raises over $60,000 at annual Relay For Life event

Doane raises over $60,000 at annual Relay For Life event

Relay For Life at Fuhrer Fieldhouse

Doane University’s Relay For Life is one of the biggest events the university puts on each year, and this year was no different. Hundreds of people came together Friday night -- students, faculty, staff, and community members -- all for one common goal, to raise money for the American Cancer Society.


Doane Relay is nationally recognized as one of the most successful Relay For Life events among colleges across the country, as Doane has raised the most money per capita nine of the last 11 years (schools with enrollment between 1-3,000 students). Doane was one of the first college campuses in the nation to have a Relay For Life event, creating a strong tradition that has lasted for the past 20-plus years.


It’s a yearlong effort to prepare for the event, which was held Friday night in Fuhrer Fieldhouse from 6pm-2am. Doane surpassed its fundraising goal of $60,000 this year, raising $60,213.32.


“It’s heartwarming and fulfilling,” said Ronda Armstrong, community development manager with the American Cancer Society. “The students put in so much time and effort into this. There is no other college event like this around. I’ve been helping with Doane’s Relay For Life for the past 14 years and the first year I helped out we raised $18,000, so we have come a long way.”


The event, which is “truly run by the students,” said Andrew Brown, advisor for Doane Relay, is a community effort. Doane’s Relay For Life executive team is comprised of 10 students while 30 students serve on the planning committee. 28 teams were registered in the fundraising challenge, while nearly 400 participants registered to give.


“While our students are already very involved, their willingness to be so involved in this event is in part what makes Relay so special,” said Summer Mueller ’18, co-chair of the executive team. “I think everyone on campus is in-tune with why Relay is important and why we care about it. When you have that many students that care, it becomes easier to pull in the community members around us.”


One of those community members who participated in Relay For Life Friday night was Lorine Mares, 79, of Wilber. It was a very special and emotional night for Mares, as Friday night marked 50 years to the day she received the news she was cancer-free.


“This is my chance to thank God for giving me 50 more years,” she said. “I’m very proud of Doane and the way the students have worked over the years to make this such a big deal. This event means a lot to Crete.”


It was also an emotional night for Michelle Jones Sitzman ’96, who attended her first Doane Relay For Life after receiving her final cancer treatment three weeks ago. Sitzman was diagnosed with lymphoma in November and had 27 family members and friends at the event to support her, all wearing bright green t-shirts that said ‘Friends don’t let friends fight cancer alone.’


“I knew when I found the lump that it was something bad but you never think it’s going to be you that has cancer,” she said. “I’ve had such a great support system. Doane and my sorority has rallied around me. Doane is a small community of people that really love each other and this event is a great example of that.”


Doane’s executive team handed out the first-ever John Lothrop ’68 Spirit of Relay Award this year, an award that acknowledges and honors Lothrop’s dedication and support to Relay over the years. Lothrop was the recipient of this year’s award after raising over $10,000 for this year’s event.


“It’s amazing to see the support we get from John,” said Sydney Pfeifer ’18, co-chair of the exec team. “He not only donates a lot of money himself, but also encourages others to give, especially among his fraternity brothers.”


Lothrop’s fraternity, Delta Kappa Pi, was the top fundraising team, also raising over $10,000.


In 2018, there will be an estimated 1.74 million new cancer cases diagnosed and 609,640 cancer deaths in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. The ACS reports there has been a 23 percent decline in cancer death rates since 1991.


To learn more information about this year’s Doane Relay For Life, you can view the final statistics here.