Elon, North Carolina|Thursday, January 26, 2017
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Students relay for a cure 


Relay for Life is the nation’s largest not-for-profit event for cancer research. For twelve hours beginning Friday night, Elon students had the opportunity to take part in this cause.

“B-Positive. Both my blood type, and my outlook on life,” read Maritza Gamboa, co-director of Elon’s first Relay For Life.

She helped kick off the event by reading a college essay her friend from home wrote before dying of cancer. Teams walked around the Francis Center field for 12 hours, raising money for cancer research.

Happy thoughts of loved ones are what kept some participants going through the night. First year student Sara Charbonnier used the memories of her mother, who died of lung cancer, as inspiration.

“Every night she would read a different story and I still have the page marked off from where we stopped,” said Charbonnier, who recalled what she could remember about her mother.

Not all participants had a personal connection to the disease.

Sophomore Julianne Erickson relayed “because I am one of the few people lucky enough not to have lost a loved one to cancer, and I want to keep it that way.”

It was that spirit and motivation that kept 32 teams and 444 participants busy throughout the night.

Although the night revolved around a serious topic, co-director of Elon’s Relay For Life Danielle Prongay stressed the importance of making Relay a light-hearted event.

“We want to be positive and create an atmosphere where it’s not scary to hear the words “You have cancer,” said Prongay. “Instead, it’s “I have cancer. This is what the answer is.”

Relay participants took steps towards finding that answer - lots of steps. According to the Elon University Relay For Life event page, nearly $28,000 has been collected for the American Cancer Society. Organizers of the event hope relay for life becomes an annual Elon tradition.

About the author: Gary Grumbach

Gary Grumbach is a senior Broadcast Journalism major from Readington, New Jersey, and is News Director of Elon Local News. He has interned at NBC Nightly News, WFMZ-TV in Allentown, PA and the New Jersey Governor's Office of Communications. Follow him on twitter @GaryGrumbach.