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February 20, 2018

SVSU students rally to raise funds for cancer fighters, survivors, caregivers

Jessica HackerThe fight against cancer is personal for Jessica Hacker, and she is inspired to help others in their personal battles.

“I have had family members and close friends battle cancer,” Hacker said. “Some have won that battle; others have lost. This has been my motivation behind getting involved with Relay for Life.”

Saginaw Valley State University will host its annual Relay for Life to benefit the American Cancer Society Friday, Feb. 23 from 2 p.m. to midnight in SVSU's O'Neill Arena. Hacker, a Kawkawlin native who graduated in December with a degree in psychology, is among the chief organizers.

The event attracts hundreds of SVSU students, faculty and staff; as well as former and current cancer patients; their caregivers; and members of the community offering their support. Covenant HealthCare and Garber Automotive Group are among the businesses in the Great Lakes Bay Region sponsoring SVSU’s Relay for Life.

Hacker and her fellow SVSU student volunteers hope to raise at least $38,000.

“A lot of the money helps fund various programs aimed to help cancer patients and survivors, including programs that offer free hair and make-up services to those currently undergoing chemotherapy,” Hacker said. “It also goes towards Road for Recovery, which provides transportation to and from doctors and chemo appointments.”

Friday's events at SVSU start with an opening ceremony that honors everyone affected by cancer. Then, during the Survivor/Caregiver Walk, participants will circle the outer perimeter of the arena and cheer on the cancer survivors and caregivers for their courage and strength as they walk around the track.

The night will also include fund-raising performances and activities by various student organizations, as well as a silent auction. 

One of the most emotional aspects of the event will be the Luminaria Ceremony, a powerful demonstration that offers comfort and hope to everyone affected by this disease. During the ceremony, luminarias – candles that represent individuals touched by cancer – will be lit.

Relay for Life events nationwide are the main source of fundraising for the American Cancer Society.

For more information about the 2018 Relay for Life at SVSU, visit