Raising money for cancer victims one step at a time

The event kicked off with cancer survivors walking around the track at CCU.

The American Cancer Society estimates about 1.6 million cancer cases will be diagnosed this year across the nation. To help them survive, a group is on the campus of Coastal Carolina University for Relay for Life. For the last six years, hundreds of people have gathered around the school's track to raise awareness about cancer and money to help fund research.

"There are so many types of cancer and everyone is affected in one way shape or form," said event organizer Sarah Burnheimer. During her first year at CCU, her father was diagnosed with prostate cancer. She describes the experience as terrifying but, "Having the relay committee support here that year saved it completely it helped me deal with it so much and him knowing I had that support system here I think helped him a lot too."

Today his cancer is in remission and Burnheimer is encouraging others to get involved.

The Relay for Life event began with a survivors lap where those who beat the disease circle the track along with caregivers. After that, 69 teams walked the track taking donations for each of the laps they complete. All of the money goes to the American Cancer Society for research and to help victims of the disease.

"Years ago they didn't have as much technology as they have now so through the years the funding has helped extend people's lives a little longer than it used to," said Terry Thomas. He's supporting his daughter who is raising money by selling baked goods for a school project.

Kathy Stokes with the local chapter of the American Cancer Society added, "It's so good to see young people be so committed and passionate about a cause."

In all, this group raised more than $80,000, and that number will likely rise as the event continues through the night.

"Our goal is to make sure everyone has more birthdays. We want a world without cancer, we want a cure," said Stokes.

She offered this advice for everyone since cancer is a disease that doesn't discriminate, "Make sure you know your body, get regular screenings and don't be afraid to go to the doctor. Early detection is vital."

The event wraps up at 7 a.m. Saturday.