Relay raises more than $57,000April 23, 2012

As the sun set over campus, a crowd began to gather. On a stage behind the convocation center, Paige Spillman, St. Louis freshman, began to tell the crowd her story about beating cancer.

When she was 16, doctors found a tumor in Spillman’s leg. After going through the wrong kind of surgery, doctors told her the tumor would one day return. Her tests kept coming up clean until one day, during her senior year, her parents got the call: her tumor had returned and the surgery was going to be more invasive if they wanted to remove it.

“This was the most trying time in my life,” she said. “Not only was I physically in pain, I was restricted to lying in bed, walking on crutches to the bathroom, and unable to enjoy my senior year in high school. I couldn’t even go to school for two months. All my friends were living their lives and I was just thinking of the pain.”

On Friday, Spillman, along with a number of University of Missouri-Kansas City students and community members, participated in Relay For Life held for the first time on Rockhurst University’s campus.

Over the four-month effort to raise money and sign up participants, this year’s Relay For Life netted more than $57,000 for the American Cancer Society and included more than 600 participants.

“It went really well,” said Kim Patterson, Omaha junior who helped organize the event. “We were very happy with the turnout. It was incredible to see that level of cooperation and support from the community and from UMKC.”

The events started at 6 p.m. with an introduction. After the introduction, the first lap of the relay was walked by Spillman and other cancer survivors.  Later in the evening, there was a ceremony where luminarias were lit in honor of those who have fought cancer. The event concluded at 5:30 a.m., Saturday morning.

Despite the cold weather that had crept in through the night, Patterson said people’s spirits were always high even when the sun started rising. Patterson said even after the event had ended, there was a unanimous vote to take one more lap around Lower Bourke Field.

The planning for next year’s event will begin in the following weeks. Spillman and Patterson hope to be a part of it next year.

“As we continue to work with UMKC, I think this event will continue to grow and be a major success," Spillman said. "Hopefully, we will have it at Rockhurst again sometime."

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