Colleges Against Cancer caught the attention of students passing by Goodell Lawn on Wednesday with bonfires, music, and energetic club members. The group served hot chocolate and smores in exchange for donations to the American Cancer Society.
The event, titled the Great American Smokeout, was held in honor of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, which takes places in November. Colleges Against Cancer was able to fundraise over $100 for the American Cancer Society throughout the day.
Colleges Against Cancer is a “nationwide collaboration of college students, faculty, and staff dedicated to eliminating cancer by initiating and supporting programs of the American Cancer Society in college” according to the University of Massachusetts Campus Pulse website.
“The Great American Smoke Out as a whole provides people who smoke with the opportunity to commit to healthier tobacco-free lives,” said Colleges Against Cancer logistics chair and junior psychology major Ciara Venter. “We utilize this event as a way to inform people about the importance of lung cancer awareness and raise money… in this sense, we encourage people to ‘roast smores, not lungs.’”
GASO occurs across the country annually on the third Wednesday in November, and Colleges Against Cancer has held their own version of the event at UMass for the past several years.
The purpose of this event was to remind college students of the severity of lung cancer and the dangers of smoking in a positive atmosphere.
“Our goal is to sell out smores and hot chocolate for people walking by who are feeling cold,” said Colleges Against Cancer secretary and senior resource economics major Marissa Falconer. “It’s not every day that you hear about cancer, so this event is a friendly reminder that these things are out there, this is what causes it and these are some preventable activities that you can partake in.”
On-campus internship organization Tobacco Free UMass also collaborated with Colleges Against Cancer in hosting GASO to help educate the campus about the dangers of smoking and vaping. Members of the initiative and cold pedestrians who wanted hot chocolate and smores engaged in conversation around the bonfires.
Tobacco Free UMass member and junior public health major Kate Wallace said, “This is a great way for people to stop by, socialize and learn more about an important cause.”
Colleges Against Cancer also holds other events that support the American Cancer Society and encourages college students to be aware of the precautions they can take and resources on campus to quit smoking. Although GASO is their biggest event, the club hosts trivia nights, an annual bar crawl and a luminaria ceremony, all supporting the American Cancer Society.
“Students benefit from attending this event by being able to learn more, not just about lung cancer, but about what the Colleges Against Cancer does to support the elimination of cancer throughout the year,” said Venter. “By giving donations, students are able to personally contribute to the cause and they get to engage with our group while enjoying the fun activity of roasting smores by the fire.”
Leigh Appelstein can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Lappelstein.