Relay for Life fundraises for cancer research

Jessica Idenoshita, a freshman majoring in international relations and East Asian language and cultures, knows the effects of cancer firsthand. As a cancer survivor herself, she knows how the disease can impact patients as well as an entire community, and she decided to give back through USC Colleges Against Cancer.

“Everyone has been affected by cancer, whether it be your family, your friends or people that they know that have been affected by cancer,” Idenoshita said. “For me personally, I have been really impacted by cancer as a patient as well as survivor, so I want to give back to the community now [by] just being involved in this club and this event, fundraising for cancer research, meeting other people that share the same interests and raising money for a good cause.”

USC CAC teamed up with the American Cancer Society to host USC Relay for Life, which took place from Saturday morning to Sunday morning. The event was created to raise money for cancer research, as well as honor cancer patients and their caregivers.

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“It’s a 24-hour fundraiser, and the main idea is to raise money for ACS,” said Brendon Wei, a senior majoring in biological sciences and the production chair of USC CAC. “People sign up for teams, and they fundraise individually or as teams. It’s kind of like a competition — we usually have prizes going out to the top three fundraisers or top three teams.”

The ACS uses donations to advance cancer research, spread education and awareness about cancer and provide emotional support and services to families that care for cancer patients. Events like Relay for Life take place on college campuses and in residential neighborhoods, aiming to involve the community.

“It brings together the school and also the community,” Idenoshita said. “Not just students were here today, but also local community members, families and people from high schools and elementary schools.”

Students involved in the club get the opportunity to plan the event on committees and conduct various tasks over the 24 hours to keep the event going smoothly.

“In general, I think it’s a great opportunity as university students — we’re still not fully professional, but we’re able to impact our community by doing events like this,” said Brendon Chou, a freshman majoring in biological sciences. “By serving as volunteers, we are able to show our interests and invest time into things that we are passionate about, and something like cancer research and taking care of families and people in general for their  welfare and the welfare of society.”

Wei felt the need to get involved after watching his father’s struggle with lymphoma when Wei was in his sophomore year of high school. According to Wei, his father, who has been in remission since he started college, has been his main motivation for joining Colleges Against Cancer.

“I didn’t see my dad a lot or my mom because she was taking care of him for that year,” Wei said. “Other people [in the club] have had cancer or have family members who have cancer. Unfortunately, some of them have lost family members to cancer.”

Chou believes that USC, as one of the most recognized universities in the world, is in a unique situation to make an impact.

“USC definitely encourages involvement in these areas where people are really affected in terms of health care, in terms of spirit of community,” Chou said. “I believe that USC is just trying to show that us as students, us as faculty and us as friends and family… all care and have a role in bettering society and people in general.”