UVM fundraises $45k for cancer research

On Saturday, hundreds of students and members of the Burlington community filled the Patrick Gym track, cheering in support of cancer research.


Many UVM students from all types of organizations across campus, including members of fraternity and sorority life and ROTC, participated in the American Cancer Society’s “Relay for Life,” said Leslye Kenney, community manager for Relay for Life.


So far, the fundraiser has raised $45,000 of the University’s $57,000 goal to go toward cancer research, Kenney said.

Cancer has affected everyone around us, and I want to be a part of finding the cure,” said first-year Grace Murphy, whose mother is now in remission from colon cancer and whose best friend is also a survivor.

Murphy is involved in the UVM branch of the Colleges Against Cancer club and participated in the relay, Kenney said.   

The day was emotional and inspirational for Murphy, who remembers some of the best moments of the day: members of the UVM ROTC completed the entire marathon in full uniform, Murphy’s team raised $1,200 and survivors shared their stories throughout the event, she said.

It’s amazing to see the community and students across campuses coming together to  celebrate survivors and caregivers, and to support in the American Cancer Society’s mission to raise money and resources for a cure,” Kenney said.


Murphy’s donations came from far and wide, but the most touching donation she received was from a boy she helped in Sunday school back home in Chicago, she said.


“He donated a portion of his weekly allowance toward my goal. When I received it, I got a little teary-eyed,” Murphy said. “This entire event gave me so much hope and made me realize how generous people can be.”


Food and nutrition sciences Professor Todd Pritchard, the student adviser for Colleges Against Cancer, got involved with the organization last year, he said.


The club was in need of a new adviser, and with a sister diagnosed with stage four colon cancer in 2015, he decided to get involved, Pritchard said.


“For me, the best part of the event was when my wife and I walked the caregiver’s lap with my sister, who is currently in remission,” he said .

The event was initiated and organized primarily by the students involved with Colleges Against Cancer, Kenney said.

“They pretty much run on their own,” Pritchard said. “They really did a great job working with the American Cancer Society to make Relay a possibility.”


Kenney is involved with making sure the event runs smoothly, but the students are a huge piece of the event’s success, she said.


“I provide support, but the students are at the core of the operation,” she said.


Kenney herself is a breast cancer survivor, and research funds provided the technology her doctor used to save her life back in 2001, Kenney said.


“I try to make someone else’s journey better than mine,” she said. “Everyone who is raising money is the unseen heroes helping doctors and researchers to do what they do.”


If students wish to get more involved, they can help plan next year’s Relay for Life for next by joining Colleges Against Cancer, fundraising or getting involved in the ACS in any other way possible, Kenney said.