Student donates more than money for annual charity event

January 6, 2016 | Features, News, UToday
By Lindsay Mahaney



Thousands of students participated in Relay for Life last month, but one student took her support to the next level.

Katie Elco took part in the campus-wide cancer-fighting event. The twist? Elco vowed to cut off and donate one inch of her own hair for every $100 she raised.

Katie Elco had 18 inches of her hair cut to raise funds; she donated $300 to Relay for Life and gave her locks to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which creates wigs for women fighting cancer.

Katie Elco had 18 inches of her hair cut to raise funds; she donated $300 to Relay for Life and gave her locks to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which creates wigs for women fighting cancer.

“This idea has always kind of been eating away at me,” she said. “This seemed like the perfect opportunity.”

Relay for Life is an annual event at The University of Toledo put on by the Colleges Against Cancer and sponsored by the American Cancer Society. More than 13,000 students participated in the 12-hour overnight event in the Student Recreation Center to help raise money to fight cancer.

Elco said her goal was $1,300, equivalent to 13 inches of hair. When asked about her inspiration, she cited a friend from high school, Lexi, whose father passed away from cancer and mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Everyone has been touched by cancer. It’s such a big thing in our day and age, watching our older relatives, and all ages, suffer from this disease.”

This year the event raised $56,685.81, and Elco personally raised $300. Instead of the original 3 inches she promised, Elco had 18 inches of her hair cut off at the event and donated it to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, an organization creating real-hair wigs to give to woman fighting cancer.

Kicking off with a survivors walk, the overnight event was filled with dodgeball, bake sales, photobooths, a Mr. Relay pageant and more activities to celebrate the fight for life.

“Any amount of passion, not even money necessarily, counts,” Elco said. “Of course, every dollar helps, but just being there shows your support for people fighting cancer. I feel like it’s a no-brainer to just go to a Relay for Life event and show your support.”

For more information, visit relayforlife.org/ut.