Student News

School of Education students raise nearly $3,500 in Relay for Life

Students from the School of Education participated in UNC-Chapel Hill’s annual Relay for Life on April 16-17 to help raise money and increase awareness to fight cancer. Doctoral students Laura Guttman and Anna Todd led the team of graduate students, and Mark Warden and Alyssa Duhon were the captains of the undergraduate Teaching Fellows team. Together, the teams raised more than $3,476.

The American Cancer Society Relay for Life is an event designed to honor those who have lost their life to cancer and to fight back against the disease. The Relay is a 20-hour event in which one or more members from each team walk around a track. It begins with a survivors’ lap to celebrate the strength and courage of those who have successfully fought back against cancer.

Ten graduate students from the School of Education formed the Peabody All-Stars who set a goal of raising $2,500. There were five students on the Teaching Fellows team, but 18 Fellows participated in the Relay.

“This year, in particular, I chose to ‘relay’ because two of my dear friends lost a parent to cancer.  I walked the track thinking about my friends, their families and the struggles each of them has faced,” said Laura-Jean Costa, president of the Graduate Student Association, the organization that sponsored the team. “I want to show my support for my friends, and Relay for Life is one way to do this.”

The members of the Peabody All-Stars took turns running and walking around the Fetzer Track and Field. The team members each took on two-hour blocks of walking and stayed in pairs carrying a decorative relay stick. They also set up an area where team members could sit down and rest throughout the Relay.

The Teaching Fellows Relay team held an on-site fundraiser during the event. They sold strings and beads for participants to create a “track your laps” bracelet. A participant could place one bead on the string at the end of each lap as a way of keeping track of the number of laps completed. 

Live performances, games and activities were available to the teams throughout the Relay. A variety of food venders were on site selling food to fuel the teams through the overnight relay.

“This was my 11th year participating in Relay for Life. It is an amazing ‘reality’ check in the midst of graduate student life,” said Costa, commenting on why she participated in the Relay. “The energy and passion that are evoked are difficult for me to explain in words. … Cancer affects everyone; that’s life. And we can continue to live with it or try to do something about it. I have chosen the latter.”

At sundown, the Luminaria Ceremony was held to honor loved ones who had lost their lives to cancer. Hundreds of candles were lit and placed in bags filled with sand, each one representing a life lost to cancer.

“As the students paused to honor or memorialize loved ones during the luminary ceremony, I stood in awe of the numbers of luminaries displayed and the expertly placed luminaries spelling out HOPE across the bleachers,” said Todd.

The Peabody All-Stars raised $2,954.63, surpassing their goal of $2,500. The Teaching Fellows team raised $522.10.

The money raised at Relay for Life goes directly to supporting the American Cancer Society, the largest source of private, nonprofit cancer research funds in the United States.

In an effort to describe the Relay for Life event, Warden said, “It’s like a giant block party with a cause – to walk for a cure.”