Relay for Life hosts this year’s kickoff event

On Nov. 9, the Relay for Life committee hosted a kickoff celebration in recognition of the event’s fifth year on campus of Florida A&M University. The event was also held to attract more people to join the cause.

“African Americans have the highest risk of obtaining cancer,” said Ashley S. Johnson, the co-chairwoman for the Relay for Life.

Committee members say Rattlers can help change this unfortunate fact by donating money to the American Cancer Society or joining FAMU’s Relay for Life, which will take place March 23-24, 2007.

Johnson, a third-year pharmacy student from Miami, has participated in Relay for Life for two years. Johnson said, “The purpose of this event tonight is to emotionally touch someone so that he or she will participate in the Relay for Life.”

The event consisted of a number of entertaining and educational activities. Students said they were moved by the testimony from cancer survivor Francis McMillan, who works in the university’s Honor’s Program.

McMillian spoke of her experiences with breast and cervical cancers. She mentioned her use of experimental drugs after she was diagnosed with breast cancer because she wanted to avoid getting her breast cut off.

Although she was going through a lot, McMillian said she still kept her trust in God. “I don’t try to figure out why God does what he does. He’s in control, and I will trust and believe in him!”

Later on in her life she found out she then had cervical cancer and had to undergo chemotherapy again. However, the process to eliminate the cancer was not as harsh as the first time because it was detected earlier than the breast cancer.

McMillian said she learned compassion, and now she can handle a lot after living through this experience. “My advice to everyone is to get a regular physical with your doctor so that you can catch the cancer early if you do have it.”

After a survival tape was played, Team Development Chair Irene Aihie spoke about the importance of donating and joining the cause. Aihie has participated in Relay for Life for seven years. “What inspired me to join this program was when my grandmother died from uterine cancer, before I was born,” Aihie said.

Last year the program raised more than $40,000, and this year it is aiming to raise $60,000. “The money that is raised goes straight to the American Cancer Society and is put towards finding a new drug to abolish cancer,” Aihie said.

Numerous campus organizations came out to support Relay for Life. Rampage Step Team and Divas Dance Team performed during the kick off event.

Markita Phillips, a senior mechanical engineering student from Clinton, Md. has participated in the program for three years. Phillips said, “What inspired me to join is my friend’s story about having cancer and Divas Dance Team discussions about how joining Relay for Life was a positive program to join. We also have fun walking around the track, and we are walking for a good cause.” Committee members said joining Relay for Life to help raise money for people who have cancer is a positive action that anyone could take.

For more information about registering for FAMU’s Relay for Life, log on to