Colleges Against Cancer focus on raising awareness

Megan Braxmaier

Every October, pink blends in with the warm oranges and yellows of fall to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a cause that millions of Americans stand behind each year.

Colleges Against Cancer is an on-campus organization that provides Grand Valley State University multiple ways to educate and raise cancer awareness, not only in October, but year round.

Courtney Miller, president of the group, has participated in Relay for Life since she was 9 years old. She relays for many reasons, including her childhood friend who was diagnosed with leukemia and her father who has been in remission for 6 years after battling skin cancer.

“Cancer doesn’t care who you are or how important you are or what you do,” Miller said. “It hits hard.”

Team Recruitment Chair and CAC member, Sarah Roper, also participates for a purpose.

“I joined Colleges Against Cancer as a freshman when I visited their table at campus life night,” Roper said. “When I was a sophomore my grandpa was diagnosed with lung cancer. He passed away about a year later so I relay for him.”

Colleges Against Cancer is a partner program with the American Cancer Society and is a part of the Cancer Action Network. CAC is split up into four sections: event development, service and survivorship, education advocacy and team Recruitment. Members of the event development section put on the games at the CAC events as well as Relay for Life, Service and Survivorship members volunteer at Gilda’s Club, and Hopelodge, and a survivor/caregiver banquet the day before Relay for Life begins. Education Advocacy members promote awareness for events and have a tent to provide information to educate the community about all types of cancer, and Team Recruitment members put together the teams for Relay, organize team captain meetings, and create Relay mentors.

All four sections of the CAC come together and help Relay for Life to be successful. Miller describes the group as “one big happy family.”

“We love having new people come and we are very willing to help start everyone transition into where we are now,” Miller said. “We’re always there for everyone.”

CAC also promotes the Great American Smoke Out, an initiative to promote lung cancer awareness and the effects of smoking. The group places 25-foot-tall signs all over campus to demonstrate the appropriate space one should stand when smoking next to a building.

As part of GASO, CAC gives away “quit kits” for those who are interested in quitting smoking and it also provides information on second-hand smoke.

Those who want to participate in Relay for Life can visit for information on how to sign up or donate.

Colleges Against Cancer meets every Wednesday at 9 p.m. in the Thornapple room in the Kirkhof Center. All proceeds for both the t-shirt sales and Relay for Life race will go to the American Cancer Society.

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