Student Raises Tens of Thousands for Cancer Research
April 19, 2011
By Lauren Daley
South Coast Today
Rebecca Ybarra believes there is no one who has not been affected by cancer.
That's why the 20-year-old from Dartmouth led a Stonehill College effort raising $44,000 for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.
"Cancer is a subject that's touched everyone's hearts. It's hard to find someone who has never been affected by it," said Ybarra, a 2008 graduate of Bishop Stang High School in North Dartmouth.
Ybarra helped organized the Relay for Life when she was at Stang. Now a junior at Stonehill College in Easton, she's doing the same there.
Last year, her efforts helped raise $30,000. At the April 9 and 10 relay, which she again chaired, the Stonehill contingent topped that by another $14,000.
Relay for Life is an overnight walk-a-thon for cancer research. Teams of people camp out at a school, park, or fairground and take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event.
Relay began in 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt, a surgeon in Washington State, ran and walked around a track for 24 hours to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Since then, Relay has grown from a single man's passion into the world's largest movement to end the disease.
"My grandfather and aunt are cancer survivors; I've had close family friends who passed away. It's a passion of mine to help out," said Ybarra, who also interns at the American Cancer Society in West Bridgewater and works in patient access and registration at Saint Anne's Hospital in Fall River on weekends.
Ybarra said her parents, Diane and Federico, "pushed me to be the best I can be, to strive for what I believe in, and do the best I can. I went to a small Catholic middle school - Our Lady of Mount Carmel in New Bedford - a small Catholic high school, and now Stonehill. The environments at all these schools are very supportive. It's all set me up having good leadership abilities."
Ybarra is working on a double major in elementary education and psychology and minoring in health care administration.
Ybarra, who studied in London last semester at Birkbeck College, isn't sure what profession she wants to pursue.
"I would love to be a teacher or a therapist, but I also a passion for nonprofits, like the American Cancer Society," she said.
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