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PR students

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Public relations students gain real life experience from writing class

By Anitra Hall

Public relations students at the University of South Carolina didn’t know they would be getting real-life experience in Assistant Professor Brooke McKeever’s Journalism 436 public relations writing course.

“I knew we’d be learning how to write press releases and media alerts, but I thought we’d write for fictional clients,” said third-year public relations student Joshlyn Thomas. “I was surprised and excited when I found out we’d actually be working with a real organization, Curing Kids Cancer.”

USC alumnus Clay Owen and his wife Grainne Owen founded Curing Kids Cancer, an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization whose vision is to find cures for pediatric cancer research in our lifetime. The Owens’ foundation began in 2005 after losing their 9-year-old son, Killian, to his battle with leukemia in 2003.

   

The sports-themed organization is based on Killian Owen’s favorite pastime: sports. Drawing off of his excitement for athletics, Curing Kids Cancer uses the energy of young athletes, coaches, teachers, and members of the community to generate funds for pediatric research. There are four main fundraising programs for Curing Kids Cancer: Coaches Curing Kids Cancer, Teachers Curing Kids Cancer, Players Curing Kids Cancer, and Certified Officer’s of Public Safety (COPS) Curing Kids Cancer.

Students incorporated what they have learned in class with Curing Kids Cancer by writing news releases, media alerts, fact sheets, communications audits, and public service announcements for the organization. “It was fun to be able to work with a real client,” said third-year public relations student Anitra Hall. “It gave us insight on what clients actually look for.”

The public relations students were able to be a part of Curing Kids Cancer‘s first event in Gamecock Country, “Battle Kids Cancer with the Gamecocks!” Students wrote public relations pieces and volunteered at the much-anticipated event. The luncheon, which included special Gamecock guests like Athletic Director Ray Tanner and Baseball Coach Chad Holbrook, was a way to incorporate the enthusiasm of Gamecock sports with the need to raise money for childhood pediatric cancer research.

More than 180 people attended the luncheon that included a silent auction, Q-and-A with Gamecock sports guests, and giveaways. The luncheon, which the Owens’ have decided will be an annual event due to its success, raised approximately $20,000 for Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.

Since it was founded, Curing Kids Cancer has raised more than $2 million for pediatric cancer research and treatment. For more information, visit www.curingkidscancer.org.


Anitra Hill

Anitra Hall is a junior public relations major in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Hall, a Rock Hill native, currently interns at Souper Bowl of Caring, a nonprofit organization that uses the energy of the Super Bowl to encourage youth to care for people in their local communities who are hungry.

 

 
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