News, Profiles, Student Organization

Relay For Life brings awareness, unity

Cayla Nimmo // Photo Editor

Sophomore Alexa Dowell poses with a photo of her mom and her. Cayla Nimmo // Photo Editor

Sophomore Alexa Dowell did not expect to get so involved in her sorority and hold a board position just a year after joining Delta Gamma. She’s glad she did, though.

“I’ve learned how to be a positive leader among peers, while also improving my communication skills,” she said.

In addition to serving as DG vice president for member education, Dowell, 20, is captain of the Delta Gamma-Sigma Chi team for Relay For Life – a cause that she’s passionate about.

The annual event, which benefits the American Cancer Society, is coming up on Saturday.

Each Relay team must have one member walking at all times. This rule is symbolic of the phrase, “Cancer never sleeps.”

Hailing from West Lafayette, Ind., Dowell is a sports administration and public relations double major who started volunteering for Relay For Life in high school.

“I wanted to get involved in something and help a good cause,” she said.

But just a week after the Relay of her senior year, Dowell learned that her mother had been diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer.

Dowell and her sisters decided to continue participating in Relay For Life as a way to support each other and help the cause.

Last year as a UM freshman, Dowell’s team in the Relay exceeded its goal of raising $2,000.

But she was not able to attend the event because her mother, Trish, 45, lost her battle with cancer the day before.

“My mom was one of the most positive people I have ever known. She was a fighter, too,” Dowell said. “Even though the only news we got was bad news, she remained positive the entire time and wanted life to continue as normal as possible.”

When Dowell flew home to be with her family, her friends stepped up to the plate at UM’s Relay For Life. Dayna James, another sophomore in DG, was one of the team members who helped fill in for Dowell.

“Alexa is one of the most dedicated people I know,” she said. “Whether it be to her family, work ethic or contribution to Delta Gamma, she continues to inspire me and most of the people who have the pleasure of getting to know her every day.”

Relay For Life is an event that Dowell holds near to her heart, James said.

“Even when she was unable to be here last year, she was still as involved as any student could have been,” she said.

Senior Katie Wanner also participated in UM’s Relay last year. She said it was a memorable experience.

“It was so empowering to see the amount of people who showed up to celebrate lives, hear survivor stories and prove that when everyone comes together, we have an extraordinary amount of strength to fight against the horrible disease,” Wanner said.

Relay For Life is the biggest fundraising event for the American Cancer Society.

It was started in Tacoma, Wash., in 1986 and has spread around the country. A Relay has been held at UM since 2002. This year, it will take place from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday at the Green.

James said she is looking forward to participating again.

“Seeing our university come together for such a great cause on the day of Relay For Life last year was one of the most inspirational feelings I have ever experienced,” she said. “Everyone has in some way or another been affected by cancer, and walking every minute of the day at the Relay opened my eyes to how much many students here have truly been through.”

With this year’s event around the corner, Dowell said she has mixed feelings.

“Hearing my mom’s name read on the list of those we have lost to cancer will certainly be more emotional,” Dowell said. “However, I am using this emotion to motivate myself. Knowing I am doing Relay For Life in memory of my mom is only giving me more strength to help fight this awful disease.”

April 6, 2013

Reporters

Bailey Murray


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

At 7:27 p.m Tuesday, University of Miami football coach Manny Diaz tweeted a GIF of a swirling Hurri ...

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Tuesday: ▪ As Miami awaits decisions from its potential 2019 qua ...

A six-pack of Canes notes on a Monday night: ▪ FIU has decided that its Nov. 23 football game agains ...

Dewan Hernandez hit another NCAA roadblock on Monday, but the University of Miami forward will take ...

Jeff Thomas will be joining the Illinois Fighting Illini after all. After a few days of discussion a ...

Grantees aim to eliminate opportunity gaps and biases in different realms and improve brain injury t ...

The film launches the 2019 film series for the UM Libraries Cuban Heritage Collection. ...

Here’s a go-to list of dates you should keep an eye on throughout the semester, along with some tidb ...

For more than 77 years, UM Hillel has provided a vibrant and diverse “home-away-from-home” that is f ...

University of Miami experts weigh in on the largest increase in carbon emissions in eight years. ...

The University of Miami football program has hired Dan Enos as its offensive coordinator and quarter ...

University of Miami head women's volleyball coach Jose "Keno" Gandara announced Monda ...

University of Miami Athletics announced Monday that it will host its fifth annual Celebration of Wom ...

After a weekend bye, the Miami women's basketball team resumes action Thursday evening at 7 p.m ...

Pictures from the No. 17 Miami women's tennis team's season-opening action in the Miami Sp ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.