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February 8, 2017

SVSU to support cancer research during Relay For Life event Friday

Relay for LifeRelay For Life’s cause against cancer strikes a personal chord for Courtney Franzel.

The Saginaw Valley State University senior’s grandmother, Martha Willis, died of breast cancer in 2000. Since then, Franzel has remained dedicated to helping others and fighting the disease in all its forms.

Soon Franzel, a biochemistry major from Sandusky, Michigan, will lead efforts to raise funds to combat cancer by coordinating SVSU’s Relay For Life event Friday, Feb. 10. It is scheduled from noon to midnight in SVSU’s Ryder Center.

“It’s an amazing event, for a good cause,” said Franzel, president of SVSU’s chapter of Colleges Against Cancer. The group organizes the university’s annual Relay For Life events.

“It brings people together,” Franzel said. “My saying is, ‘Together, we can.’ Together, we can make a difference with Relay For Life.”

Last year, the SVSU community raised $37,000 for the American Cancer Society through its Relay For Life. This year, Franzel said organizers hope to collect $40,000.

Those interested in contributing can donate online at

Friday’s event kicks off at noon with opening remarks from Franzel and SVSU President Don Bachand. Other activities include a dinner and a silent auction at 5 p.m.; the auction will include gift cards from local businesses and organizations as well as SVSU clothing and gear.

Alicia Ennis, a cancer survivor who graduated from SVSU in 2013, will speak at a ceremony recognizing fellow survivors at 6 p.m.  A ceremony to recognize all who have fought — and, in some cases, lost — the battle against cancer begins at 9 p.m., and the closing ceremony be held from 11:30 p.m. to midnight.

Franzel, who plans to pursue a career researching cancer genetics, has participated in SVSU’s Relay For Life events since 2014.

“It’s been a great feeling to know you’re helping people,” she said.