According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), over 1.9 million people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in 2023 alone. Sadly, cancer touches and takes around 600,000 lives each year in the United States. Inspired by their own stories of survival and the cancer diagnoses of loved ones, a group of Anna Maria College students opened their own American Cancer Society chapter on campus where they are dedicated to spreading awareness and raising money through their annual Relay for Life event scheduled for Saturday, April 13, 2024, at Caparso Field.  

Last year the Anna Maria ACS Chapter raised over $7,000 during their first Relay for Life event. This year the Chapter is looking to double their donation goal, and thanks to their support on campus and in the community, they seem to be well on their way! 

During a Relay for Life, individuals and teams donate money and take turns walking around a designated path. There are games and other activities to enjoy, but ultimately the goal is to take shifts and turns so that people are walking during the 12-hour event.   

The 12-hour block is a very symbolic as Nursing major Clare Jankowski ‘24, Treasure of ACS Society on campus explained, “The Relay for Life is 12 hours long because that’s usually the amount of time that someone is waiting for their diagnosis, which is such a life changing diagnosis. So, it might seem like a short time or a long time to us. But for someone who’s waiting for that news, it’s forever.” 

Fire Science major Kevin Henderson ‘24 and his family know first-hand how long waiting for test results can feel. At the age of 2 years old, Kevin was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma, a form of lung and liver cancer. Kevin is in remission now and is a cancer survivor, but his experience made him very empathetic to others battling the disease. Kevin had participated in Relay for Lifes in high school, but he was inspired to open an ACS Chapter and start a Relay for Life on campus after a friend’s sister was diagnosed with cancer. Now Kevin serves as President for the ACS on campus and is already planning next year’s Relay for Life in April. 

Kevin is excited to make this year’s Relay for Life on campus even bigger with more activities and hopefully food trucks for participants, “We know people are going get tired of walking, some people are not going to want to take turns walking from 7 pm to 7 am. We’d rather have more of an impact and make it more of a fun, family vibe where people can hang out and play games. We are bringing people together to create something memorable that has meaning.” 

Will Sarrazin ‘24 is a Fire Science major who has personally seen the toll cancer has on a family after his father who has battled pancreatic cancer three different times. Will has also lost other loved ones to the disease. As a future first responder, Will is looking forward to helping people, but through his work as Secretary for Anna Maria’s ACS, he can help cancer patients by raising money and awareness for an organization near and dear to his heart.  

“Just seeing my father go through it firsthand just reinforces how important this is. There needs to be more awareness. More that can be done to help cancer patients and their families. There’s got to be something else people can do and that is why I am so passionate about our work in this Chapter. Because I believe there should be more awareness after seeing it firsthand with a family member, especially one that lives with it.” 

The Anna Maria College Chapter of ACS will host their Relay for Life in April 2024. To join the Relay or even just donate to the ACS to further cancer research and help find a cure visit: