With a very personal reason for volunteering along with dozens of others, Lily Bradney kept making bike-powered smoothies for people participating in the annual Middle Tennessee State University Relay for Life.
Bradney, 19, a junior public health major from Cleveland, Tennessee, and fellow students prepared the smoothies Friday, March 24, on the basketball courts in the Health, Wellness and Recreation Center. Smoothie buyers pedaled a stationary bike to turn the ice and fruit into an enjoyable beverage.
Students, faculty and others gathered to wrap up the student-led 2023 MTSU Relay for Life — a very successful relay event as the $12,942.76 raised exceeded the $10,000 goal.
More than 200 people attended the finale. The event was coordinated by Casie Higginbotham, Health and Human Performance lecturer, and University Studies professor Dianna Rust.
Close to home
Before Bradney was born in the early 2000s, her father, Robert Bradney, became a cancer survivor. Lily Bradney has volunteered for Relay for Life for years in her hometown.
“I love giving back to my community,” said Bradney, who spent the spring semester helping as part of her Health Promotions class. “It’s the right thing to do. It’s for a great cause.”
She said her father’s illness and survival “didn’t really influence my decision (to study public health), but I found that I enjoyed learning about and taking public health classes the most, so I decided to change my major to public health.”
Bradney’s not in a specific concentration, but “thinks it will be beneficial to work in a nonprofit setting or for an organization that helps children.” She’s in the process of applying for summer internships.
In addition to selling smoothies and other food at the event and attendees’ laps around the court, organizers used numerous ways to raise funds.
These included tabling events in the Student Union and giveback nights from Donut Country, Boulevard Bar & Grill and Blaze Pizza, said student volunteer Urielle Umutoni.
Umutoni, 22, a senior public health major originally from Goma, Congo, now living in Nashville, Tennessee, said it was “a fun, interesting experience. I had a great time on the procurement team, finding sponsors.”
Donors included Chik-fil-A with10 gift cards, Boro Bowls and Alumni Hall with $25 gift cards, MT Engage provided Air Pods for a raffle and several other local businesses made donations, added Umutoni, an ROTC cadet captain who began volunteering in January.
For an organization that promotes “Every Dollar Makes a Difference,” the MTSU Relay Committee led all teams by collecting $2,652. The rest of the top five teams included Gamma Beta Phi ($2,345), MTSU Student Nurses Association ($1,028), Service Learners ($899) and Nutrition Dietetics Association ($490).
Rust led the top participants with $1,356 raised, followed by University College technical clerk Teresa Umphrey ($469), junior Faith Ziegler and PsiChi Psychology Club (both raising $366) and University Studies senior instructor Gina Johnson ($360) in the top five.
For Ziegler, 20, a community and public health major from Obion, Tennessee, who has helped Relay for Life since age 11 when living in Pennsylvania, the MTSU event “was fantastic. I enjoy being a part of the process.”
“They (Relay for Life leaders) were very understanding when I couldn’t do something,” she said. “They’ll listen (to ideas) and value your opinion and want feedback to go make the event the best you can.”
Anyone wanting to be involved with MTSU Relay for Life next can contact Rust at Dianna.Rust@mtsu.edu.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)
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