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Colleges Against Cancer raise money for cancer, but face drop off

ASU's Colleges Against Cancer club helped at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk with a mere 10 members

Making Strides walk participants cross Tempe Town Lake on the Mill Avenue bridge on Saturday,  Oct. 22, 2016.
Making Strides walk participants cross Tempe Town Lake on the Mill Avenue bridge on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016.

Pink, pink and more pink was all around on the morning of Oct. 22nd, while the American Cancer Society held its Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at Tempe Beach Park where more than 16,000 people raised over 1.3 million dollars.

That's what members of ASU’s chapter of Colleges Against Cancer found themselves doing at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk this past weekend.

However, the club's activism spans far past just one weekend.

The club's main focus is raising money through the Relay for Life walk on April 1, but they participate in year-round events focused on awareness and host their own small fundraisers too. CAC is a national organization found on several different college campuses such as University of California Los Angeles, Virginia Tech, Cornell University and more.

The mission of the club hit home for co-leader Brooke Whittington, a biochemistry sophomore.

“My grandma was diagnosed with brain cancer about six years ago, she recently has passed away this past year, and cancer has always been really close to my heart,” she said.

Whittington said she's seen many of her friends affected by cancer. It was through some of those friends that she got involved with the club.

As leader of the club she places a heavy focus on not just fundraising for the ACS, but also getting the club's message out.

“Our main goal is to raise as much money as possible for the American Cancer Society,” she said. “So basically we try to support the American Cancer Society through fundraisers."

According to the ACS, about 595,690 Americans alone are expected to die of cancer in 2016. That means about 1,630 people will die per day. It's those kinds of statistics that the CAC hopes to reduce through their funding.

Committee member Calvin Koelbel, medical microbiology junior, involves himself heavily in the accounting process.

In 2015 the club raised $15,000 through fundraisers and donations for the ACS.

“All of the money goes straight to the ACS, all of our donations go there, after we cover the cost of events,” he said.

After the money gets to the ACS, it is dispersed into various programs such as patient care, research, recognition and cancer prevention.

The club partnered with Lyft and handed out promo codes where every time the code was used Lyft would donate $10 to the American Cancer Society.

However, Koelbel said there's been a drop of in involvement with the club. Although he was not the only member of the club who helped out at the event, he said they were disappointed in the lack of participation by Colleges Against Cancer members and students who are not members.

"We haven't had as big of a turnout as we would've liked," Koelbel said. "This year has been different than the previous years because we have new leadership."

For example, Whittington is only a sophomore and is still working into her leadership role. Koelbel said everyone is working hard, and they hope to work to bring new spirit to the club.

Member of the club Jamie Handlos, chemical engineering sophomore, was one of the club members raising money at the walk. Handlos' family was among the many families who've been hit hard by cancer not just once, but several times.

"A lot of my family members have been diagnosed, and actually last year my aunt passed away so that kind of helped my drive for being involved this year," she said.

She says she hopes to see the club revamped as well.

“It has been a little more difficult this year to get participation,” Handlos said. “It will be good when we can get more of our tabling events up and going, we need to encourage more participation."

Correction: Due to an error in reporting, a change has been made to this article. 16,000 people raised over 1.3 million dollars on October 22nd. 

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