A Relay to Remember

CI students leading the way

By Lori Putnam

It was a clear spring evening and the South Quad was aglow with starlight from above and candlelight from below as a stream of lanterns marked a path for runners and walkers participating in the University’s first Relay for Life. The lanterns, each commemorating the name of a loved one touched by cancer, were part of a luminaria ceremony hosted in conjunction with the American Cancer Society fundraiser. 

CI’s Relay for Life, held over a 24-hour period on March 2nd and 3rd, honored Dr. Stephen Lefevre, CI professor and administrator, who died of cancer last fall at the age of 67. The event attracted 412 participants organized in 33 teams, and CI volunteers raised $58,743 for cancer research – a significant amount more than their original goal of $25,000.

Fundraising efforts were led by CI seniors Jacklyn Simonson and Veronica Palafox. Among the top three fund-raising teams was Team Steve, comprised of Lefevre’s friends and family. 

Simonson, who minored in Political Science, was a student in Lefevre’s class in Fall 2010 and remembered him as personable and energetic. Having the Relay held in his memory offered special meaning to her and other students.

Lefevre was a popular figure on campus, and is credited by many for helping to create the collegial and collaborative learning environment that distinguishes CI. The Relay for Life gave the CI community a chance to celebrate his life and legacy.

“Our family was absolutely honored, on behalf of my husband, to be involved,” said Susan Lefevre. “I think he would have enjoyed the symmetry – that the energy of the campus which he thrived in is now directed into making inroads to beating cancer.” During the relay, Lefevre was stopped a number of times by students who wanted to share memories of her husband. One student expressed how her participation in Lefevre’s political science class was the catalyst for her to pursue her American citizenship. 

Steve Lefevre’s brother, Greg, spoke at the luminaria ceremony, and a slideshow celebrated the lives of family and friends of the CI community who have battled cancer. The Relay for Life event also included a Survivor’s Lap, a Caregiver Lap, and a Closing Ceremony.

“It was so wonderful to have Steve honored by students,” added Lefevre. “You couldn’t ask for anything more as a teacher.”

Students from CI and nearby California Lutheran University (CLU) had also formed a friendly competition by hosting back-to-back Relay events. The CLU event raised more than $40,000, double their original goal.

Top Teams:

1Team Steve $13,587

2 Big Willy Style $4,475

3 Hope & Honor $3,651

Top Participants:

1 Susan Lefevre $6,755

2 Nancy Gill $1,825

3 Therese Eyermann  $1,400

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