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First Unity Day held in the College of Nursing

Students surround Bob Green, clinical assistant professor of nursing, as he takes two pies in the face from students who bid $100. (Editor's note: Tina Vandiford Roberson passed away on June 24, 2008 after a courageous battle with cancer). Photo by Cliff
GREENVILLE, N.C.   (Apr. 25, 2008)   —   Music, sunny skies and a lot of whipped cream combined for the first Unity Day held at the East Carolina University College of Nursing on April 25.

Faculty, staff and students mingled stress-free prior to final exams while raising money for senior classmate Tina Vandiford, who was diagnosed in February with a rare cancer, clear cell sarcoma with subtype melanoma.

Students anteed up quickly to throw whipped cream pies at faculty members including Walter Houston, Krista Horne, Bob Greene, Donna Roberson and Kathy Simpson. But students were not immune as incoming student president Fredy Lopez, treasurer Dan Hines and Erin McGillicuddy, two of the organizers of the event, also got creamed.

Simpson, a clinical assistant professor who scored the largest bid at $165, and a section of the nursing leadership class came up with the idea for the event. Faculty and staff made desserts served with barbecue plates sold to raise funds.

Vandiford, 29, was there along with her mom, Judy, and fiancé, Mike Roberson. At her classmates urging, she threw the $125-bid-winning pie at Donna Roberson.

Earlier, Vandiford thanked her friends for their support.

"I never imagined myself in this position at this age," Vandiford said. "All of you have helped me mentally and emotionally. I can't thank you enough from the bottom of my heart."

Vandiford is undergoing interleukin-2 therapy. Interleukin-2 is a protein in the body that makes infection-fighting cells multiply and mature. She also will have chemotherapy in the coming weeks. Physicians are continuing to monitor her left leg for fluid and swelling, she said.

Vandiford, who earned her first bachelor's degree in business and marketing, has started an organization called Tina FAR or Fight Against Rare cancer. Donations are being accepted through area Wachovia banks. Other fundraisers are being planned in the coming weeks and months.

Marie Cannon of Grifton said Vandiford has continued with her studies in hopes of graduating in December with the rest of her classmates.

"The only thing she hasn't been able to do is clinicals," Cannon said. "She is one of the strongest people I know."

(Editor's note: Tina Vandiford Roberson passed away on June 24, 2008 after a courageous battle with cancer).


Contact: Crystal Baity | 252-744-2481