Shedding Light on Melanoma, Rain or Shine

Students participated in a fundraiser to combat skin cancer.
Students participated in a fundraiser to combat skin cancer.

As summer approaches, so does the risk of being kissed by the sun in the worst possible way.

Hannah Spero, a second-year psychology major, lost her mother to melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) in 2001 and has been holding an annual fundraiser in her honor for the past three years. When Spero came to New Paltz, she started a club on campus called Save Our Skin to help raise awareness about the disease.

“The fundraiser started as a senior project in high school and I’ve been holding it every year since then,” Spero said. “My mom was an artist so I want to honor her memory through art. Students raffled off their artwork to raise money.”

To cater to different students, second-year psychology major Sharon Hillman, one of the event’s planners, asked local bands to play. A capella groups also sang and local restaurants donated food. Even though the event was planned last minute, many people were more than willing to help out.

“I felt like I was imposing on the bands a little for asking them to play on such short notice but they were all willing to help,” Hillman said. “People volunteered themselves to come play because they saw how important this was.”

The event, held on Sunday, April 22, was supposed to be out on the Quad. However, because of the rain it was moved to Student Union 100. Holding the event on the Quad where students tan would have been the perfect place to spread awareness, Hillman said, but many came out even though the event was indoors.

The biggest difference between this and the previous years’ fundraisers was that Spero decided to make the event more about spreading awareness of the disease than raising money for it. The nearly $600 raised during the event will go to the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund, which helps educate people about preventing themselves from getting melanoma.

“I was so focused on raising money for a cure that it was only until days before the event that I realized I wasn’t doing much to help spread awareness,” Spero said. “Yes, we want to raise money through art and food, but this disease is huge among young people and spreading awareness is really why we’re here.”

Spero said next year’s goal is to get more people involved in planning the event farther in advance. And ultimately, the more people educated about the disease, the better.

“This experience is very therapeutic for me,” Spero said. “My mom didn’t have anyone to do this for her, so I want to do this for other people and their moms.”