UA students travel to American Cancer Society East Central Division summit

By: Andrea Mazzocco

Last weekend, three University of Akron students attended the East Central Division Relay For Life Leadership Summit sponsored by the American Cancer Society. The Summit was held in Pittsburgh, Pa. at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Attending this conference were sophomore Joshua Reiderman, junior Miranda Burbridge and senior Andrea Mazzocco. Burbridge and Mazzocco, co-chairs for the Relay For Life held at The University of Akron, are also on the East Central Collegiate Advisory Team, which helped plan and facilitate the Summit. Reiderman served as UA’s representative to the Summit and is the Team Development Chair for UA’s Relay For Life.

Relay For Life is the American Cancer Society’s signature event. It is an overnight walk to cure cancer through fundraising and education. The money raised at the event goes toward research and patient services offered by the American Cancer Society. These patient services, such as Road to Recovery, Look Good Feel Better, Reach to Recovery and I Can Cope are available in many communities, including in the Akron area.

There are over 5,200 Relay For Life events spread across 22 different countries. It is also a community event, bringing together people from all walks of life to celebrate, remember and fight back. Participants celebrate those affected by cancer, remember those who have lost their fight and pledge to fight back against the disease.

The East Central Division of the American Cancer Society is comprised of Ohio and Pennsylvania Relay For Life events. There are over 700 community and collegiate events in these two states, including the Relay For Life held annually at the University of Akron. These events raised over $36 million for the American Cancer Society in 2011, with Akron’s event raising $42,800.

The Summit offered general and focused training sessions for participants to learn how to make their Relay For Life events bigger and better in 2012. The general sessions included awards for the top performing Relay For Life events and facts about Relay For Life and the American Cancer Society. The sessions also featured speakers and videos about the importance of this cause.

The summit also included activities to get participants excited about Relay For Life. Burbridge, who was on the Spirit Committee for the Summit, led over 500 participants on a Spirit Walk through downtown Pittsburgh.

“Looking back and seeing about 500 people following me with their glow sticks was incredible,” Burbridge said. “With all of us cheering, Pittsburgh got a glimpse into what the Relay spirit is all about. I could not have been more proud at that moment.”

Burbridge, Mazzocco and Reiderman have already started incorporating new ideas from the Summit into their plans for Akron’s Relay event.

A team meeting for Akron’s Relay for Life will be held this evening at 7:30 p.m. in Room 312 of the Student Union. More information is also available on, or by emailing [email protected]