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On Tuesday, the Valenti School of Communication partnered with local non-profit, Turn It Gold, to host a public, on-campus screening of Realistically Ever After: A Turn It Gold Movement. The screening was spearheaded by Dr. Jill Yamasaki, health communication associate professor.

Realistically Ever After is a feature-length documentary that highlights Turn It Gold’s efforts to raise awareness and funding for children’s cancer research through partnerships with schools, athletic teams, and community members. Dr. Yamasaki served as associate producer for the film.

“I was really pleased so many students chose to come and be a part of this movement, [and] to celebrate what the Valenti School of Communication is doing in terms of its storytelling and health communication work,” said Dr. Yamasaki.

More than 200 members of the University of Houston community attended. Despite the high turnout, the event maintained an air of intimacy as Turn It Gold leaders and Dr. Yamasaki took the stage.

The theater was filled with a mix of emotions ranging from smiles to tears as students, faculty and community members watched the narratives of various pediatric cancer survivors and their families unfold.

After the event, students reported feeling more knowledgeable and empowered to raise awareness about the issues facing childhood cancer survivors.

“Before, I thought childhood cancer was on the mend. I thought that survivorship was on the rise, and I thought that a happy ever after was what everybody shot for. But now I realize that is completely incorrect,” said Alaina Spiers, second-year mass communication graduate student.

The event ended with organizers inviting audience members to continue to help the University of Houston #TurnItGold. In honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, the UH Volleyball team also committed to help #TurnItGold during their game against Temple University on Friday, September 21.

“If you’re someone sitting there thinking ‘Golly, I wonder how I could help?’” said Angela Dina, Turn It Gold co-founder and executive director, “Everybody can help. We say if you know better, do better.”

Dr. Yamasaki and student hold Turn it Gold sign
Lauren, a 7-year-old cancer survivor, poses with UH Volleyball team and Turn it Gold representatives

At the UH Volleyball game on Friday, September 21, Turn It Gold honored Lauren, a 7-year-old cancer survivor, for her bravery. The combined efforts of the documentary screening and the UH Cougars Volleyball Team helped raise more than $1800 for childhood cancer research.