SMU Relay for Life Benefits American Cancer Society

April 18, 2011 by · Comments Off 

Relay for Life participants watch as Dennis Stanley opens the evening. (PHOTO BY MEREDITH CARLTON / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

By Meredith Carlton

“Cancer never sleeps.” Southern Methodist University students, faculty, staff and members of the DFW community experienced the same feeling this weekend.

From 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 15 to 5:30 a.m. Saturday, April 16 over 800 people participated in SMU’s 8th annual Relay for Life to benefit The American Cancer Society (ACS). People from around the Metroplex gathered on Bishop Boulevard to celebrate loved ones who fought or continue to fight the disease and remember those who have passed away.

“Everything you do tonight is going to touch someone’s life whether you know it or not,” Dennis Stanley, SMU junior and member of Lamda Chi Alpha said in the opening ceremony. “In March of 2000, five days after my tenth birthday, my family found out my dad was diagnosed with cancer.”

Stanley went on to describe the specifics of his father’s disease and the road that he traveled through the disease. Stanley’s father passed away on Nov. 11, 2001.

The opening ceremony was followed by a lap for the survivors and a caregivers’ lap.

According to, the tradition began in 1985, when one individual ran and walked around a track for 24 hours to raise money for the ACS. Since then, more than 3.5 million people take part in the event across the United States each year.

Although SMU’s Relay for Life lasts only 12 hours, as of Friday evening they had raised over $76,000 online and that total continued to build throughout the night.

“I believe it’s a great cause because my grandma had cancer, she actually died from it,” Ramon Trespalacios, SMU freshman and participant, said. “And if all the people around the world actually did something to gain funds to help people that really need to be better and that have cancer, the world would be better.”

Forty-five teams signed up and participated in this year’s Relay for Life at SMU. Teams had a number of on-site fundraisers ranging from food sales, including baked goods, Boba tea, chicken tacos and Raising Cane’s, to ‘Car Bash for the Cure,’ where participants took their turn hammering a car spray painted with the word cancer.

“It makes people more aware that you’re not invincible and it can happen to anybody,” Caitlin Keen, SMU freshman and participant, said. “It’s really important to make people aware that it’s out there so that other people can help out and be encouraging and know that there’s things you can do to help other people.”

Other events took place throughout the evening including a frozen t-shirt lap, where participants were asked to remove a t-shirt from a block of ice and take a lap, and a wing-eating contest.

Eric Kinser, an outside participant in this year’s Relay, enjoyed the atmosphere.

“It’s a real nice family atmosphere and it’s been kind of emotional too,” Kinser said. “You feel real touched.”

Kinser relayed because of his wife, who battled breast cancer about two years ago, and his brother, Scott, an SMU alumni.

According to the ACS website, males have a 44 percent risk of being diagnosed with some form of cancer while females have a 37 percent risk. Of those people diagnosed, males have a one in four chance of dying from the disease while females have a one in five chance.

Maillil Acosta, Kappa Delta Chi’s president, has participated in Relay for Life all four years she’s attended SMU and relays for two specific reasons.

“Relay for Life supports the American Cancer Society and that’s actually our national philanthropy for our sorority,” she said. “ Second, one of our sisters, her mom died of cancer when she was 10, so it’s really important for her to have the support of us.”

Entertainment was provided throughout the evening ranging from Trigg the Magician and the Mustang Mavericks, to musical acts by Tiffany Houghton and Treble Creek.

Those who participated felt inspired.

“I think that helping others in the community is the best way to be help about yourself because every time you give you get satisfaction,” Trespalacios said.

Stanly agreed.

“This is how we touch lives,” Stanly said. “You can make a difference.”

Photos By Nick Cains

Mustang Mavericks Develop New Dance Team

March 31, 2009 by · Comments Off 

By Laura Vasquez

For those who enjoy country music and dancing, SMU’s first country western dancing team is being formed. The Mustang Mavericks, who are putting the team together, held the first information session Monday at the Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports.

“The team’s ultimate goal is to bring school pride,” said one of the founding members Philip Hughes.

The Idea

Aaron Rose and Hughes have country dancing experience from high school. Rose went to Lake Highlands High School and was part of the country western dance team there. Hughes, on the other hand, helped start the dance team at Pearce High School.

Hughes and Rose were accompanied by two other SMU students at the meeting: Alexandra and Haley Gatewood, two sisters who just love dancing. Although they do not have the same experience as Hughes and Rose, the sisters have learned the twisting stunts and wrap-arounds that are involved in the dancing.

The Gatewood sisters, Hughes, and Rose met each other in their residence hall and decided they would bring great school pride to SMU by starting the dance team.

The Goals

“It is the lack of school spirit that made us want to start the team,” Hughes said.

The ultimate goal, according to the first four members of the team, is to bring school spirit to SMU.

“No more wearing OU T-shirts at SMU. You have to wear SMU gear, and you have to be proud of SMU,” Alexandra said.

The team is currently not chartered by the school, but they hope to prove themselves worthy of sponsorship.

“We already have an invite to be in the homecoming parade next year,” Haley said. “We hope to dance at the opening of the new George Bush library.”

Rose said once the team gets a good reputation, then the team can score some major performance.

The Commitment

The team is expected to practice three to four times a week starting in the fall. Because of the time commitment, each new member has to pledge at least one year to the team.

“It is unfair to your dance partner and your team if you decide to leave in the middle of year,” Rose said.

Since the team is not chartered yet, everyone will be responsible for purchasing their boots and uniform.

Hughes said the girls will wear red boots, and the guys will wear either brown or black boots.

The Dance Clinic and Audition

Free dance clinics will be held at 5p.m. on April 4, 5, and 11th in Studio 2 of the Dedman Center. Paid stunt clinics will be held at 7:30p.m. on April 13 and at 6 p.m. on April 17.

There are stunts in the country western dancing routines, and the team is not responsible for any injuries. Alexandra said she will be sending out packets of information about the clinics and a liability form via e-mail. To be placed on the e-mailing list, contact Alexandra at

Auditions are 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on April 25 in Studio 2 of the Dedman Center. Hughes said there are possibilities for late auditions, if anyone cannot make the audition.

“We want to help you make the team because we want a team,” Haley said.

The next information session is at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 31 in Classroom 2 of the Dedman Center. Hughes said it is not necessary to be at the meeting to audition.

For more information about the team visit the Mustang Mavericks Facebook page.