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Penn State Relay for Life Battles Cancer With 24-Hour Walk

by on April 11, 2015 4:15 PM

Just up the hill from Penn State's outdoor track sits the Bryce Jordan Center, which houses THON, the world's largest student-run philanthropy.

Under the spring sunshine and the BJC's shadow, THON's little sibling is spending 24 hours circling the university's track to benefit the American Cancer Society (ACS).

The Penn State Relay for Life kicked off on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m., embarking on a day of relaying to raise money. The ACS supports families battling cancer and funds research in the quest for a cure. 

Kaitlyn Sukovich was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia when she was just two years old. She's now a healthy, happy Penn State student, set to graduate in a month, but not before a few more laps around the track.

"As I'm standing here today, I don't have any long term repercussions that I know of from my treatment. Too many kids are not nearly as fortunate as I am," she says. "Many don't beat their cancer and if they do, large portions of them are left with debilitating, long-term side effects from the treatments that saved their lives. That's why I relay. Without the support of organizations like Relay for Life, I'm not sure that I'd be here today to tell my story."

Sukovich says that her battle with cancer at such a young age taught her not to take anything in life for granted. On Saturday afternoon, she took part in the first walk around the track as the 2015 Penn State Relay for Life began with a Survivor Lap.

As the relay began, dozens of relayers and supporters were at the track. Lindsey Hannon, a member of the Gamma Sigma Sigma service sorority, says that her organization has made the event one of its top priorities.

"It's a great cause and we're really excited to be here," she says. "I've done it for the past couple of years. I think there's over 40 girls in my sorority alone here today. I wish there was more participation in Relay like there is in THON, but this is all going for the same cause and it's really important."

Theresa Ledney, who works with the American Cancer Society, walked around the track during Relay's first hour. She couldn't help but smile as she discussed the event.

"Relay is awesome. It's a great event to bring people together in the fight," Ledney says. "This one is near and dear to my heart because I'm a Penn State alum, and they've come so far since they started the event."

Ledney says that the American Cancer Society is extremely grateful to be partnered with both THON and Relay for Life, two student-run initiatives at Penn State that fundraise for the fight against cancer.

It isn't too late to donate and support the relayers. You can support the cause in person at the track, or through the Penn State Relay for Life website.


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Zach Berger is the managing editor of He graduated from Penn State University in 2014 with a degree in print journalism. Zach enjoys writing about a variety of topics ranging from football to government, music, and everything in between.
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