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Taking strides toward a cure

Participants in the third annual Castleton State College “Relay for Life” fundraiser walked from when the sun was high in the sky, until the moon and stars took its place.Twelve teams, comprised of students, faculty, family and friends all gathered outside Castleton’s campus center at 4 p.m. Saturday to begin the 12-hour trek into the night to combat cancer.

“By walking today, you’re joining the international movement to fight cancer along with the 4 million other people worldwide who are helping to save lives,” said Hillary Greenfield, student coordinator of the event.

The event began by asking the survivors to walk the first lap around the track while Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down” played in the background.

Betty Derosier, a second-year participant and one of the two survivors to walk on Saturday, praised the efforts of the college.

“I was diagnosed about five years ago with uterine cancer and I walked last year at 74 and now I’m here again at 75,” said a beaming Derosier. “I’m very grateful for today and what it stands for.”

Barbara Mercier, who battled the pre-stages of ovarian cancer nearly 20 years ago, was the second survivor who walked under the blue skies and sunshine on Saturday afternoon.

“This is my second year here and I absolutely support everything and everyone’s efforts,” said Mercier, who was not only walking for herself, but for her mother as well. Mercier’s mother passed away two years ago from ovarian cancer.

Those who gathered to hope, celebrate, remember and fight back had the opportunity to participate in various fundraising events throughout the day as well, with all proceeds going toward the total amount raised.

The dunk tank was popular with the younger supporters, who tried their best to hit the bull’s-eye and soak students and members of the Castleton staff who were brave enough to volunteer.

Food stands were lined up around the track, giving walkers an opportunity to indulge in caramel apples, cotton candy, popcorn or even sno-cones at their leisure. Castleton men’s ice hockey player Blake Barber was acknowledged as the student who raised the most money for the event, having received $500 in donations.

“Any kind of monetary donation contributes to helping to find a cure,” Barber said, “and that’s what we’re working toward here.”

The men’s ice hockey team raised a combined total of $1,860 between their green and white teams, but it was Castleton’s ski team that raised $1,145 for the event and took home the award for the highest amount raised by a participating team.

The event raised a total of $4,755 over the 12-hour duration and Castleton State College President David Wolk was on hand Saturday to commend the efforts of Greenfield and the rest of the college community.

“Hillary is an impressive young woman and she is just one of the many students here who are able to think outside themselves,” Wolk said. He said he believes his students make a difference in the community before they go out and make a difference in the world.

“There was a lot of competition today,” Wolk said, “and I give a lot of credit to those who came out and supported and did the right thing. It absolutely warms my heart.