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University of La Verne to Host Relay for Life May 3-4

Walking and running toward a common goal, footsteps will fill Ortmayer Field at the University of La Verne for 24 hours straight May 3-4, as the University hosts the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life global event.

This is the first year the university is hosting the event, where participants will be part of the more than 4 million people throughout 20 countries who come together to honor cancer survivors, remember loved ones lost, bring an awareness to save lives and raise money to fund much needed research.

The event begins Saturday May 3 at 9 a.m. and will end Sunday May 4, at 9 a.m.  Relay for Life teams, some of which will camp overnight, will take turns walking or running the Ortmayer Stadium track. Because cancer never sleeps, each team is asked to have at least one participant on the track at all times.

La Verne administration, faculty, staff, students and alumni traditionally have many teams signed up for the event. This year Team Still-Well has been created in memory of a beloved colleague, friend, mother and mentor for many, Judi Stillwell. Stillwell, who worked for the university for 29 years, was diagnosed with brain cancer more than a year ago and recently lost her battle. Her positive outlook is reflected in the team name, whether it is toward those currently battling cancer, or to the families of those left behind, the message of “Still-Well” promotes her spirit and Stillwell’s wish for everyone to be well and healthy.

Another team participating is Cure-iffic!  The team led by Nusha Shishegar of the University Admissions office, is working hard to reach their $5,000 fundraising goal for their second year in a row. Cure-iffic!, the original team from the University, has been participating in Relay for Life for the past eight years. With the event being held at the University campus this year, Shishegar is happy to report that participation is at an all-time high, and that of the 38 teams registered for the event, 60% of them are La Verne teams.

“It’s a great family event. You’ll learn, you’ll have fun, you’ll laugh and you’ll cry,” Shishegar said.

To help reach their fundraising goal, Shishegar and her team are hosting “Laughter Therapy,” a fundraising dinner and comedy show at the Holiday Inn, in Ontario, on Friday, April 25. Tickets are $30 for students and $35 for non-students. The fully tax-deductible donation includes dinner which begins at 6:30 p.m., and the 18-years-and-over comedy show, beginning at 8 p.m. Those interested in attending can email for more information.

Team Cure-ageous was founded by Loreto D’Monte, a 39-year employee of the University, and her daughter, Sarah Berkowitz. The duo created the team in honor of D’Monte’s seven-year-old grandson George Coleman, who has battled leukemia and is currently in remission. Though her team participated in the Relay for Life in Riverside last year, they will bring their enthusiasm and energy to La Verne’s event this year.

“I’m thrilled to have it on campus, and am hopeful that George will be able to attend for a little while,” D’Monte said.

One of the favorite traditions at Relay for Life is the Luminaria Ceremony. This year, Professor of Education Peggy Redman, a cancer survivor, will speak at the ceremony, which will take place at 9 p.m. on Saturday evening.  Luminaria markers, which will be placed around the track and lit for the ceremony, can be purchased for $10 each and dedicated in memory of a loved one, or in honor of someone who is currently battling cancer. To register for the event and sign up for a team, please go to  To purchase a luminaria, email

Relay for Life activities will also have accommodations for children, such as face-painting, a bounce house and an obstacle course designed specifically for kids. There will be a talent show for the teens and a movie screening after dark. There will also be live music, sports, as well as delicious food, guest speakers and many other surprises.

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