To make her impact, Kate Amabile relies on the Spider community

She revived UR’s Relay for Life chapter to raise funds for cancer research and honor loved ones struck by the disease.
Senior Kate Amabile, ’24, outside of the Robins School of Business

When she was a kid, Kate Amabile, ’24, lost her grandfather to prostate cancer. That experience was part of what motivated her to join her high school’s Relay for Life chapter. The event celebrates cancer survivors, remembers loved ones lost to the disease, and raises funds for American Cancer Society research and programs. More than 1.9 million new cancer cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.

Amabile planned to continue her involvement in Relay when she got to college. When she found out that Richmond didn’t have an active chapter, she stepped forward and created a new one. In two short years, it has developed into one of the country’s most promising chapters, according to the American Cancer Society.

“I decided to start Relay for Life at UR because of how impactful and life-changing this event is,” said Amabile, the chapter’s president. “So many families are touched by cancer, and it takes fundraising efforts from passionate people across the world to make an impact.”

In July, the American Cancer Society honored Richmond’s chapter as one of five Rising Stars at an annual conference in Dallas. The award recognized the chapter’s leadership, growth, and future potential.

“They made big strides their very first year and continued their success their second year,” Jane Roberts, senior development manager at ACS Virginia, said. “They have great leadership, and their donations have increased every year. That’s why we view them as a Rising Star.”

Relay for Life participants collect pledges for their teams, then raise money by walking laps during a four-hour event. The 2022 and 2023 Relay events at Richmond collectively raised nearly $60,000.

In addition to making donations to individuals and teams, donors can also purchase and decorate luminarias to honor loved ones who have had cancer. During a special ceremony, the lights are turned off, and the luminarias glow in the dark around the track. Speakers share their experiences with cancer during this intimate time, and attendees crack open glow sticks in solidarity.

“At our 2023 event we had several speakers, one being fellow Spider Penny Armenio,” Amabile said. “She lost her dad to cancer in the fall of 2022 and was brave enough to share her story with us at the event. Her dad was an oncologist and devoted his whole life to saving the lives of other cancer patients. We Relay for people like Penny.”

Accounting professor Nancy Bagranoff is the organization’s adviser, and the Robins School of Business is the presenting sponsor for the chapter.

“Under Kate Amabile’s leadership and with the support of many dedicated students across campus, this chapter has far and away exceeded all expectations,” Bagranoff said. “It is no surprise, then, that the American Cancer Society would recognize this effort as a Rising Star.”

Amabile is proud of the leadership team and chapter members for working so hard to make the event a success. “Our chapter is extremely committed to Relay, to raising money for a life-threatening illness, and to organizing an amazing event to honor those affected by cancer,” she said.