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Campus Celebrity: Kaelyn Gates

Our Campus Celebrity for this week is Kaelyn Gates, a senior on campus that is one of the key members of Carroll CAN, the new cancer advocacy group on campus.  Carroll CAN is the replacement for Relay for Life, and their event this year is Streak-A-Thon, a dance marathon happening on March 29. 

Were you involved in Relay For Life?

I was not apart of the Relay for Life committee here at JCU. However, my mom had participated in Relay for as long as I can remember. I participated in Relay my freshman, sophomore and junior year at John Carroll through a team with my sorority. 

How/When did Carroll CAN form?

Carroll CAN is the brain child of Steph Fair. She has worked hand in hand with our advisor, Maura Jochum, to ensure that JCU still had an organization after Relay left that had a sole purpose of helping those in our community affected by cancer. Steph has been working tirelessly on this over the summer to get the organization up and going starting in Fall 2013. 

What is your position in the organization?

 I am the Lend-A-Hand Committee Chair. I am basically in charge of community outreach. Our committee has worked on a couple events including Give a Heart, Take a Heart (might have to check if thats the name I can’t remember which way it goes) with Kappa Delta and Lambda Chi Alpha to provide 100 chemo care packages to University Hospitals and 50 to the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute. We are also working on ways to create a support group on campus for those of us who have been affected by cancer.

Who else is involved in the leadership of the organization?

Maura Jochum is our advisor. Steph Fair is our president. Amanda Preston is a Financial Officer. Raechel Boyko is our Raise Funds Committee Chair. Taylor Whisler is our Raise Awareness Committee Chair. And of course, we wouldn’t be able to do anything without the committees that serve under us.

How long have you been planning the dance marathon?

We have been planning this dance marathon since December 2013. We have taken a lot of steps, including choosing which event we want to become our big annual event to replace relay. There were a lot of great ideas contributed by the committee members and ultimately we chose a dance marathon!

Why did you choose the American Cancer Society, the Taussig Center, and The Gathering Place to receive the proceeds?

Carroll CAN aims to raise funds, raise awareness, and lend a hand to those in our community affected by cancer. As a committee we decided that we wanted three organizations that reflected our mission. Raise Funds money will go to Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute. Raise Awareness money will go to the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network which works as a cancer advocacy group to ensure that cancer issues are a national priority. My committee’s funds for Lend A Hand are going to The Gathering Place, a local organization that works as a support place for families and individuals affected by cancer. They provide support groups, art therapy, and other ways to help families get through difficult times. 

How are the proceeds being split?
The overall proceeds are being split equally among the three organizations. The night of the event, you will be able to contribute specifically to which ever organization you would like by requesting songs or just through our donation boxes specified for each organization. 
What else are you involved in?
Beside Carroll CAN, I am an active member in Kappa Delta Sorority where I have held many leadership positions, all of which have prepared me for my role in Carroll CAN. I am also the Business Manager for The Carroll News (until I graduate so if you need a job on campus, hit me up!). 
Why is cancer advocacy and awareness important to you?
Cancer advocacy is extremely important to me because I know first hand how awful the disease can be. My dad passed away in December of 2012 (the week before finals). He had fought the disease for 13 years. Through out our journey, we not only met a ton of amazing families with similar stories that we could rely on for support, but we were also able to see our community form around us. Friends and family and knowing that we had the support of our community really helped us get through the hard times, and I want nothing more than to provide that for other families. Beside my father, I have had a few other relatives pass away from cancer and my amazing cousin Jenny is currently battling breast cancer. 
What is your favorite event on campus every year?
My favorite event on campus every year was Relay for Life because it was amazing to see the support from JCU as I was going through all of this with my dad. It was great to feel the love and support and know I wasn’t alone in the fight. I have faith that Streak-A-Thon will provide the same type of supportive environment as relay did for so many students. 
What are you plans for after graduation?
 Being a senior, this question sucks. I am not entirely sure what the future has to offer. All I know is it has something to do with law and cancer advocacy. But who knows, I could honestly end up living in Africa and teaching the rest of my life and I wouldn’t be mad about it. As long as I am helping people, I am serving what I believe my purpose is here in the world. 
What’s one thing you wish you’d done during your time at Carroll?
It’s hard to pick just one thing. First would be studying abroad. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to do so with my dad being so ill. I would definitely recommend it and I have never heard a bad thing about doing it! Also, I wish I had chosen to done Manresa because I feel like it would have allowed me to have a deeper connection with my faith through all the tough times I have had during my time at JCU. And the manresa community rocks. 
How does it feel to be a campus celebrity?
 I don’t really see myself as a campus celeb! I am just trying to work hard and serve others. To be recognized for that is really heartwarming because it reminds me that what I am doing does matter and that people do care about cancer advocacy even if they don’t have a story like mine. 
Allison Gall is a senior English major at John Carroll University. She is also a member of Kappa Delta Sorority. While not doing school work, Allison is involved in several other activities, including working with her church and taking Taekwondo. Allison also loves to read and write, sing, play violin, swim, and run. She is also interested in fashion, and she is known among her friends as the go-to person for hair and makeup help.
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