Softball players organize cancer awareness fundraiser

“There’s a driving force behind why I do it,” said sophomore Rachel Howard. “All my aunts have had some form of cancer. It’s a big thing in my family.”

Howard plays first base on the softball team, which is planning the second annual Relay for Life event on May 3 from 6:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. at the Armfield Athletic Center.

Relay for Life spreads awareness of cancer and raises money for the American Cancer Society. Relays are organized around the world by different groups looking for ways to give back.

Before the event, community members who want to participate create or join a team and get people and businesses to sponsor them by donating to the American Cancer Society.

Those who attend alternately walk laps around the field, enjoy live music from local bands, play games like water pong, devour baked goods and much more.

“What was it like last year?  Hilarious, said Howard.  “Oh, God, it was so fun. I met a whole bunch of new people — athletes, non-athletes, people from the neighborhood … I had a blast.”

One major goal of the team is to get everyone on campus involved, bridging the divide between athletes and non-athletes.

“You always hear the negatives about athletes,” said Head Women’s Softball coach Dennis Shores. “You always hear when they get in trouble, but you don’t hear the good things about them.

“We’re trying to … shed the light on what college athletes are all about.”

Some of the team members also stressed the importance of including the entire campus.

“I think we just wanted to focus on getting more of the community at Guilford — non-athletes — involved,” said junior Morgan Myers.

Senior Sarah Cutright said that the team is doing as much as possible to get the community to participate.

“Yes, (Relay for Life) is sponsored by the softball team, but at the same time we want community involvement in helping to run it and organize it and to actually be at this event,” said Cutright. “Any way we can get the community out really right now is how we want to do it.”

High hopes remain for the upcoming relay, especially after last year’s success. In 2012, the softball team helped raise around $9,000, and more than 200 people attended.

The goal for May is to double the amount of money raised last year by including as many people as possible.

“Cancer strikes everybody in one form or another, whether it’s a parent, a sibling, a relative, a close friend,” said Shores. “At some point in time in your life, you’ll be touched with it, so it’s really a good thing to get involved in.”

Even before beginning its work with Relay, the softball team worked to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

“We’ve historically done a ‘Score for the Cure’ game to fight breast cancer, and I contacted the American Cancer Society to ask them, ‘What else can we do?’” said Shores. “Their initial comment was, ‘Well, there’s Relay for Life.’”

Shores may have initiated the effort, but the team members have taken over.

“We all decided … that this is a pretty good cause,” said Howard. “We have so many people on our team that can reach out in the community. We thought that, with our resources, we could do it.”