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NIU to host Relay for Life kickoff

Published: Friday, Feb. 15, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

DeKALB – Mary Lee Cozad still has not outgrown slumber parties.

For the past 11 years, Cozad has gathered with hundreds of others for an all-night event to raise money for cancer research. The Northern Illinois University professor once again is leading the campus’ charge in the annual Relay for Life event. She’s already raised more than $1,000 with the help of her team two months ahead of the relay.

Cozad said she hopes more will join the effort Feb. 26, when the American Cancer Society hosts a Relay for Life kickoff event at Neptune Hall at 6 p.m. Early support has already been shown with 12 teams, comprising 52 participants, raising $2,548.

“It’s a very empowering and positive kind of experience, especially for those who have had cancer or know someone with it,” Cozad said of Relay for Life. “And it’s like a big overnight slumber party. It’s a lot of fun.”

Relay for Life gathers teams of local businesses, schools, churches, community groups and families to build awareness and raise funds – before and at the event – to fight cancer. The event also celebrates the lives of survivors, remembers those who lost their lives to cancer, and unites the community in the fight against cancer.

Those interested are asked to raise $100, Cozad said, though people can enter with less. The Feb. 26 meeting will provide information on how people can volunteer to organize and recruit teams, secure community support, plan entertainment activities for the event, coordinate logistics and collect refreshments and prizes for the event.

The Relay for Life event is scheduled for April 12 at the NIU Convocation Center.

Cozad, a cancer survivor, said she is proud of the history NIU has with the American Cancer Society – starting Colleges Against Cancer along with the University of Illinois – and hopes this event will be another successful year.

“We took a little bit of a [fundraising] hit during the recession because it was harder to raise money,” she said. “But we still have strong support.”

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