“Everyone on this campus has been touched by cancer,” said business junior Elaine Barham, who has been involved with Relay for Life since her freshman year. | Anna Hörnell/Special to Mustang News

Anna Hörnell
Special to Mustang News

On Monday, student volunteers turned Cal Poly’s campus purple to raise awareness for next month’s Relay for Life event.

The Cal Poly Relay for Life crew tied purple ribbons — the worldwide event color — around trees and posts, and left chalk messages such as #beatcancer and #jointhefight on the ground around Dexter Lawn and the Julian A. McPhee University Union (UU) Plaza.

Monday’s campus decorations kicked off the final stage of preparations and fundraising before the Relay for Life event kicks off at Cal Poly on May 24 and 25, said Team Development Chair and business administration junior Elaine Barham.

“Everyone on this campus has been touched by cancer,” Barham said. “It’s just a cause that hits home for a lot of people, and this event is always a lot of fun.”

Last year, the Cal Poly portion of the international event drew 70 participating teams and raised almost $45,000 for the American Cancer Society. This year, the group has upped the stakes, hoping for 80 teams, $55,000 in donations and 25 cancer survivors in attendance.

The 24-hour walkathon known as Relay for Life began in 1985, and in the hands of the American Cancer Society, the annual event has raised nearly $5 billion.

In addition to the walkathon, Cal Poly will host Survivor Tea in the atrium of the Robert E. Kennedy Library this Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, where all cancer survivors are welcome.

So far, fundraising for the main event has been somewhat slow, with only a few thousand in donations. This, however, is not out of the ordinary, said Barham, who is in charge of talking to different student groups to recruit relay teams.

“We know college kids always wait until the last minute, so that’s why we do things like this later in the year,” Barham said. “We always meet our goal.”

Students and community members who want to get involved can sign up on the Relay For Life website, or come to the weekly meetings at 8 p.m. in Graphics Arts (building 26), room 104, Barham said.

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