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University senior recognized for American Cancer Society work

UT senior Sarah Ritenour is a firm believer in the mission of the American Cancer Society.

Sarah Ritenour received the Jefferson Award for December from President Lloyd Jacobs and Vice President Larry Burns during a recent town hall meeting.

Sarah Ritenour received the Jefferson Award for December from President Lloyd Jacobs and Vice President Larry Burns during a recent town hall meeting.

It’s a good thing, because the American Cancer Society needed a believer to chair UT’s ninth annual Relay for Life last year.

Ritenour, who will graduate in May with a degree in communications/public relations, had been involved with local Relay for Life events through the Public Relations Student Society of America, of which she is a member. Admiring her past work, the American Cancer Society tasked her to co-chair UT’s Dec. 3 relay.

“I didn’t sleep until relay was over,” Ritenour recalled. “I dreamed about relay. I would wake up in the middle of the night and start typing things. I’d think, ‘This would be a good idea for relay!’”

Her diligence paid off. Last year’s Relay for Life netted $28,000 and attracted more than double the number of participants from former years.

For Ritenour, it meant being named the December 2010 Jefferson “Champion” Award honoree for community service, in addition to the financial boost to the American Cancer Society.

The Toledo native is keenly aware of cancer’s reach; her grandfather and fiancé’s father are survivors. The American Cancer Society, she said, has assisted both by providing educational resources and support, as well as directing them toward appropriate medical care.

Ritenour wore many hats as relay’s co-chair. She administered numerous committee meetings, tackled public relations details and sacrificed sleep. Bottom line: This year’s Relay for Life raised $3,000 more than any in the event’s UT history.

“One of the things relay showed me is that people care about other people,” Ritenour said. “College students care, even if they haven’t been personally affected by cancer. When everyone comes together for a common cause, it’s very powerful.”

Ritenour has contributed to other American Cancer Society events and assisted with public relations for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

After graduation, Ritenour plans to stay in Toledo and work in the community service sector. Eventually, she’d like to open an after-school center for local youth.

On being named a Jefferson Award honoree, she remarked simply, “It’s nice to be recognized for doing something you love.”

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