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UC Honors Student Leads All-Nighter On Campus for 'The Greatest Cause on Earth'

Because of what cancer took away, Florence Lucas never got to meet the grandmother who shares her name. It’s in her memory that Lucas is leading the largest student-organized community service event on UC’s campus on April 24.

Date: 4/20/2009
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Ashley Kempher
I lead Relay For Life because I can, and I do it for those who can’t, because they’re battling cancer.” – Florence Lucas

Florence Lucas, a 20-year-old University of Cincinnati secondary education major from Akron, Ohio, is event chair of a UC student committee organizing “The Greatest Cause on Earth.” That’s the theme for the 2009 American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life at UC that gets underway at 5:45 p.m., Friday, April 24, on McMicken Commons, and runs through noon, Saturday, April 25.

Florence Lucas
Florence Lucas

Lucas says the Relay, called the largest student-organized community service event on campus, has set a 2009 goal of raising $135,000 to support American Cancer Society efforts to wipe out cancer by funding research, treatment and education programs.

She has a very personal connection to the cause. Her paternal grandmother, whom she was named after, died of cancer before Lucas was born. Both of her maternal grandparents, Jim and Ann Richie of Akron, Ohio, are cancer survivors.

The student-organized Relay For Life at UC has been a spring campus tradition since 2003. So far, 165 teams and more than 1,400 people are signed up for the 18-hour event in which teams take turns walking the Relay route on McMicken Commons.

Florence Lucas

“I’m really excited about seeing more participation from graduate students this year, especially from the Academic Health Center,” Lucas says.

Lucas, a UC junior, has played a role in organizing the UC Relay since her freshman year. Lucas and UC sophomore Megan Hathaway, a University Honors student and civil engineering major, are event chairs of Relay For Life at UC.

Fellow University Honors student and Relay Team Development Chair Michelle Prinzo of Akron, Ohio, a UC sophomore early childhood education and communication major, adds that faculty and academic advisors also are involved in the Relay, and that one of the top 2008 teams representing Campus Services is taking part in the 2009 Relay. “We have more student teams representing UC Athletics than in years past. We have a lot of teams representing UC’s Greek organizations, and we even have a team participating from Cincinnati Public’s Hughes Center,” says Prinzo.

“I really feel like UC is set up so that, if you want to make something happen or if you have a dream, there are so many people at UC who will help you make it happen,” Lucas says. “I’ve never had that feeling at any other time in my life.

“There are so many resources, so many opportunities and so many people to help – I really am amazed at how much I felt UC was invested in me. It makes me feel really invested back in UC,” says Lucas.

When she graduates and becomes a teacher, Lucas says that she wants to teach at a high school where she can introduce future Relay For Life events for high school students and their community. She says she has wanted to be a teacher since she was a little girl, and as an RA in Daniels Hall, she says she likes to help tutor peers who are struggling in math.

She says her decision to pursue her education at UC was pretty easy to make, because the university offered her the best financial deal to attend college. Her Cincinnatus University-level scholarship, combined with a special National Merit scholarship awarded from UPS and her position as an RA, will allow her to graduate debt free.

As a student in the University Honors Program for academically talented students, she gets to enhance her educational experience at UC through coursework and out-of-the-classroom activities focusing on the themes of community engagement, global studies, leadership, research and creative arts. With an emphasis on experiential learning, the University Honors Program serves more than 1,600 UC students representing every undergraduate college on campus.

Her connections to campus outside the classroom include serving as a voluntary Bearcat ROAR tour guide for UC Admissions and being a member of the RallyCats spirit organization and Chi Omega sorority. The Chi O’s will be among the teams representing UC’s Greek organizations at Relay For Life.

The UC Bearcat Band helps Relay For Life get underway at 5:45 p.m., Friday, April 24, on McMicken Commons. A special survivor lap to honor cancer survivors, an emotional moment in the Relay, gets underway at 6 p.m.

After dark, during the emotional Ceremony of Hope, lighted bags called luminaria represent a person affected by cancer as well as those who were touched by that experience. UC’s Luminaria Ceremony will take place at 10 p.m., Friday, April 24.

Even Lucy the Bearcat is lending support to the Relay. Representatives of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden will accompany Lucy at Relay For Life at UC from 7:30-8:30 p.m., Friday, April 24.

For those who can’t attend the Relay, contributions can be made online through the Relay For Life Web site.

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