When Kelly Acree lost her 23-year-old cousin to cystic fibrosis a few years ago, she knew she wanted to raise awareness about genetic disorders.
Inspired by how well the Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon has done in raising awareness and money for pediatric cancer, Acree (senior-bio-behavioral health) said she decided to create a club on campus, the Penn State Genetics Awareness Project.
Acree, the founder and president of the club, said it will focus on two genetic disorders per semester. This semester, she said the group will focus on cystic fibrosis— in honor of her cousin — and cancer genetics.
“Genetics disorders in general is just too broad,” Acree said. “It’s hard to raise awareness for such a broad scheme, so if you pick a few and focus on just those for the semester, it’s much easier to get more specific details out in regards to awareness.”
She said the club will choose the topics for next year at the end of the current semester.
Acree said the club held its first meeting a few weeks ago and said about 20 people attended. She said she hopes to receive about 30 to 40 attendees at the next meeting.
“I think for a brand new organization, it’s pretty good so far,” she said.
Amandelyn Wilson, webmaster of the organization, said the club plans to initially focus on the bigger-name disorders in order to attract more attention. Wilson (sophomore-information systems technology) said further down the line, the club will focus on more obscure disorders.
Wilson said she thought the club is something new and interesting to learn about. She said there were genetics disorders that she had never heard about it, and said she thought it was important to continue to learn more.
“There are genetic disorders in my family, too,” she said. “I never thought about how big of an issue it is before [Acree] brought it up.”
Secretary Samantha Hurley (sophomore-criminology) said she also decided to join the organization after hearing Acree’s story.
Hurley said she thought the club was the perfect thing to do for Acree’s cousin, adding that she thinks the club will be a success at Penn State.
Acree said the club will hold a bake sale downtown on Feb. 22 to raise money for a cystic fibrosis foundation and will later hold a restaurant fundraiser.
Also, Acree said the organization will have a team in the upcoming Relay for Life in order to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
Hurley said the next meeting will take place at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12 in 155 Willard.