PP TB then introduced the three speakers for the meeting who are key members of the local chapter of the American Cancer Society on the UCLA campus. The three are:
JENNA ROSEN (JR): President
SHANE SIMON (SS): Direction of Production
PRIYANKA BHAKTA (PB): Growth Director
The ACS chapter at UCLA is a student run organization with its objectives to celebrate cancer survivors, remember those who have been lost to cancer and contribute to the fight against cancer by helping to eradicate it by education, awareness and the raising of money. Its signature event is the once a year RELAY FOR LIFE (RFL) which brings together the UCLA and Westwood communities to fight for cures, etc.
It was emphasized that the chapter is very passionate in what it does. Each of the three speakers gave examples of what drew them to the chapter and their personal associations with friends and/or relatives who have been affected by cancer. As noted, an important objective of the chapter is to increase campus awareness of the disease.
In-person rallies are held to educate students. Social media is employed for awareness. Engaging with cancer survivors is important, particularly during the age of Covid-19 when patient visits are severely restricted.
As noted above, the RFL takes place over a 24 hour period which requires camping out for some participants. The RFL enables the chapter to reach out to the entire Westwood Village community. Over the last five years, $1 million has been raised for cancer causes. The Westwood Village community has been very supportive of the RFL. In 2019, the last year the RFL took place in person, 1,000 participants were involved. Participants in the RFL have included celebrities from the UCLA and Westwood communities. There are speakers who have addressed many subjects and talk about their own experiences with cancer. When the sun rises on the RFL, hope is renewed and the future is brightened by contemplating a future without cancer.
A short video was shown about the RFL which portrayed its activities and programs. The emphasis was on the special time it affords the community to fight cancer.
The impact of COVID-19 on cancer patients was enumerated which include:
- less screening making cancer patients more susceptible to cancer;
- weakened immune systems;
- an increase in cancer mortality;
- a decrease in mammograms;
- fewer pap smears;
- less colonoscopies;
- fewer CT scans;
- less PSA tests.
It was noted that over the years, Congress has earmarked financial relief for the ACS.
PB discussed the virtual RFL held last spring. It consisted of four hours of livestream with 67,000 views on facebook and $76,000 raised. Hallmark activities included a virtual relay, fighting back trivia, celebrity appearances, dancing, talent shows and shared stories. The RFL emphasized loved ones who were cancer free, speeches on cancer awareness, holding trivia questions and honoring people with a moment of silence.
Importantly, on this May 15, another virtual RFL will take place. It will commence at noon. Those interested in participating can go to the website www.uclarelay.org. Similar to last year, it will last four hours and include ceremonies, events, activities and special guest appearances. The hope is that the 2021 RFL will be successful.
It was noted that in general, the chapter raises funds throughout the year, not just on the day the RFL is held. Examples are silent auctions, Valentine's Day games and the like.
Some comments were made about the national ACS. For example, some $5 billion has been raised for cancer involving 3.2 million participants with 984,000 screenings performed and 16.9 million survivors. The ACS is continually researching new cancer treatments, improving patients' lives, providing 24 hour rides, stays at lodges, supporting equity programs, etc.
JR noted how the WVRC can get involved including:
- purchasing luminaria bags ($10);
- helping raise money;
- becoming an Event Sponsor;
- speaking at the RFL;
- using social media to publicize RFL;
- purchasing short advertisements which are held during RFL.
At the conclusion of the excellent program, two questions were proffered:
Q1: Are contributions to the ACS tax deductible?
Q2. Will the RFL go live in 2022?
A1: It is hoped that it will.
Lastly, JR is to send PP TB various links.
Editor of the Day: PP EDWIN GAULD