Wednesday, April 25, 2007
OU’s Relay for Life nets more than $21,000
|Rachel LaBelle of the Social Work Club raised $1,575 for the American Cancer Society through Relay for Life. |
By Rebecca Wyatt Thomas, OU Web Writer
Oakland University hosted an American Cancer Society Relay for Life in late March. Student organizations, students, faculty, staff and community members walked the track in Recreation Center from 4 p.m. on Friday, March 30 through 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 31. The participants raised $21,369.92 for cancer research.
One of the largest individual fundraisers was Rachel LaBelle of the Social Work Club. She raised $1,575 for a cause close to her heart.
“My father was diagnosed with colon cancer in March 2003. The cancer was already stage four, which is very dangerous and often is not treatable at this stage,” said LaBelle. A week after learning of the cancer, he underwent surgery and a few more tests to ensure the cancer has not spread. “He underwent chemotherapy for the next year, and has been cancer-free for four years now.”
The shock took its toll on LaBelle’s family. Her parents never indicated something was amiss so the diagnosis came as a shock to her and her three younger siblings.
“My parents told us that it was in God's hands; they were hopeful and strong. I am very happy they had each other and their faith as a source of strength, which they had passed along to their children and provided strength for the four of us as well,” LaBelle said, adding her parents have now been together for 27 years.
This was LaBelle’s first Relay for Life. She started getting donations right after her team registered for the race at the beginning of March. As vice president of the Social Work Club, LaBelle served as the team’s captain. She set a goal for the team to raise $1,500.
“I began e-mailing friends and old coworkers and family asking for donations. I sent more than 300 e-mails,” LaBelle explained. She also set up a display at work and recruited her boyfriend to reach out to his family and friends as well.
Overall, the Social Work Club came in third in terms of organization fundraising. The OU Physical Therapy Club was first, raising $5,266. The Student Nurse Association of Oakland University was second, raising $2,495. The Social Work Club raised $2,293. Fourth place went to the OU Conner Creek Nursing organization, which raised $2,192.
The event is an overnight experience and LaBelle said it was a lot of work, but it was meaningful to her.
“There was a sense of community in that small gym as we all came together for the same reason. All of us were walking for the cure. All of us had been affected in one way or another by cancer,” LaBelle said. “The survivor lap was especially special. About six survivors took a victory lap together as we all cheered them on.”
OU hosts the Relay for Life annually and it is one of 52 fundraising events that are held throughout the Metro Detroit area during the year. OU’s event is a large draw for student organizations.