April 02, 2014

‘Can I Live’ celebration set for April 22

by Christi Mathis

Beverly LoveCARBONDALE, Ill.  -- Success and the ability to overcome adversity will be highlighted in the fourth annual “Can I Live” rally at Southern Illinois University Carbondale on April 22. 

The event, free and open to students, faculty, staff and community members, begins with an interactive unity march at 6 p.m.  The march begins outside Grinnell Hall and ends at the Student Center Ballrooms, where the rally begins at 7 p.m.   Participants will receive commemorative “Can I Live” T-shirts on a first-come basis and carry signs bearing inspirational words celebrating life.  There will also be performances during the march. 

The event’s theme is “Equality.” The rally will feature speakers discussing how they have overcome a variety of obstacles including physical disabilities, bullying, sexual assault, gang violence, and adjusting to a different culture when living in a new country.  Through dialogue, artwork, plays and music, speakers will explore topics including domestic violence, sexual orientation and attaining happiness. 

Chancellor Rita Cheng will present opening remarks.  Beverly Love, an assistant professor of radio, television, and digital media at SIU, is the keynote speaker.  She is the recipient of the 2007 SIU Faculty Woman of Distinction Award, the 2013 California Casualty Award for Teaching Excellence and the 2013 Illinois Education Association nominee for the National Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence.  

The rally is designed “to create unity by showcasing courage through performance,” Ryan Reed, event co-founder and a graduate assistant in First-Year Advisement for University College, said.  “This rally has touched our community as a whole, transcending boundaries such as race, gender, age, culture and so many other divisive designations that historically obscure unity.” 

Reed said his goal is for 1,000 participants this year. 

A display of special paintings, collages and artwork from Carbondale schools and after-school programs will decorate the ballrooms, providing a look at how children express their feelings about equality, love and family.  

Organizers are also seeking volunteer help for the march and rally.  Opportunities to help include performing at the rally, distributing T-shirts and bottled water at the march and program, working registration booths, setting up tables, and staging and crowd organization. 

Those wishing to help are asked to volunteer by April 13, if possible.  To offer assistance, email canilive.us@gmail.com or visit the fundraising site http://www.gofundme.com/7njewk

The Speaking and Teaching registered student organization is teaming with Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. and other registered student organizations to sponsor the rally.  The Residence Hall Association and the National Residence Hall Honorary are sponsoring a fundraiser to collect donations for the Perry-Jackson Child Advocacy Center and the Williamson County Child Advocacy Center.  Participants can bring change to donate. 

A number of campus and community organizations are also involved in the rally including SIU’s Counseling and Psychological Services, Wellness Center, Student Support Services, Non-Traditional Student Services, Disability Support Services, Saluki Cares, Saluki Lifesavers and International Student Council, along with the H-Group and The Women’s Center Inc. 

For more information about the “Can I Live” rally visit the website at www.canilive.us, call 773/575-3917 or email canilive.us@gmail.com.