Uniting Culver to Benefit Cancer Research

Photography Provided

Many people have been touched by cancer. For Dale Smith, organizer of an event that would become known as Relay for Life, that touch was with his twin brother Dave, who passed away during their senior year of high school. That heartbreaking circumstance gave Dale a new purpose – raising money for cancer research.

“Dale’s vision was to have a 24-hour relay – they were runners,” says Dana Neer, who serves as director for Relay for Life of Culver and has been involved with the organization since 1983.

At that point the event was known as the Dave Smith 24-Hour Relay, but was dubbed Relay for Life in 1985 when the American Cancer Society became involved. Since then, the event has evolved and spread throughout the country, raising millions of dollars for cancer research.

What sets the Culver event apart is that it is run by students, making it unique in the nation.

“We try very hard as adults to coach our student leaders,” Neer says. “We want them to take initiative. They make a lot of the decisions.”

For Culver Academy and Culver High School students, the event is a way to bring their community closer and make a difference in their world.

“It is an event that brings a community together and allows people to have a safe space to reflect on how cancer has affected them and their lives,” says Catherine VerMeulen, a junior at Culver Academy who leads the Academy’s involvement with the event.

Relay For LifeSteven Carter, a senior at Culver High School who works on the Relay for Life business outreach group, agrees.

“It is a reminder that we can still fight cancer and adversity when we come together as a community,” he says.

Relay for Life of Culver benefits the American Cancer Society, and will be held at Culver Town Park, 819 East Lake Shore Drive, on Friday, May 8 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. For more info, visit relayforlife.org/culverin. Those interested in volunteering or sponsoring can reach out to Dana Neer at dana.neer@culver.org or at 574-842-8080.

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