As hundreds of members of the Longwood community walked around the track Friday night, together they crossed one large hurdle.
With this year’s total of more than $64,000 raised, Relay For Life of Longwood University blew past the half-million dollar mark in total funds contributed to the American Cancer Society’s fight against the disease since 2003.
"I am proud of how we come together every year," said Dr. Maureen Walls-McKay, director of Longwood’s Counseling Center and advisor to the student committee that organizes the Relay For Life. "Cancer touches everybody, and this community really embraces this event. It highlights the deep ties between Longwood and Prince Edward County. The entire community comes out every year in a stunning display of support."
This year’s event featured 57 teams from across the campus community, and the Health and Fitness Center was transformed into a carnival in keeping with the theme Cirque de Relay. Team members walked along the 200-meter indoor track that circles the second story of the building.
Cancer survivor and beloved Longwood professor Dr. Jim Jordan and President W. Taylor Reveley IV kicked off the relay. Special guest University of Virginia physician Dr. Reid Adams, associate director of the U.Va. cancer center, also spoke on the impact of the research dollars that come from the American Cancer Society.
Lindsay Graybill ’15, of Norfolk, was this year’s student co-chairman of the organization. "My mother is a survivor of skin cancer," she said. "These last four years have been an incredible journey here on campus. We have raised more than $200,000 since I’ve been involved, and we seem to get better every year. It’s just so fulfilling."
This year’s other co-chair, Heather Hudson ’15 was one of several participants who donated hair to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths, which provides wigs to cancer patients through the American Cancer Society.
A past chair of the Longwood student committee, Emily Bacalis ’12, who works as a community manager for American Cancer Society, also joined relay participants. Based in Richmond, she organizes six relays around Virginia.
"I really caught the Relay For Life bug while I was at Longwood," said Bacalis. "I’m so proud of my alma mater for stepping up to the plate year after year. If you compare Longwood’s participation per capita with some of the other schools in the state, we surpass them. It really shows what kind of community we have here."
For more information on Longwood’s Relay For Life organization, visit relayforlife.org/longwoodva.