November 1, 2012

12 Year Old Raises Money for Cancer Research


Belen resident Reilly Holder organizes penning competition, donates $550 to UNM Cancer Center

November 1, 2012

Inspired by family members’ cancer diagnoses, 12-year old Reilly Holder wanted to do something about the disease. “We need to find a cure,” she says. “I’m not a doctor but I can raise money for research.” And she did.

Reilly organized a team penning competition that raised $550 on October 21. “We are so honored by Reilly's efforts. What she did is wonderful,” says Cheryl Willman, MD, University of New Mexico Professor of Pathology and Medicine and Director and CEO of the UNM Cancer Center. Dr. Willman accepted Reilly’s donation on behalf of the UNM Cancer Center this afternoon.

Team penning is a timed equine sport in which a team of riders identifies, separates and pens specific cattle from a herd. The sport began as a way to sharpen an essential cowboy skill. The most skilled teams can find, separate and move their cattle to the pen in seconds, without even touching the animals.

To organize her event, Reilly coordinated the logistics with Rose Lee in Jarales, NM who donated the arena, and with Charlie Meyers of the Cattlemen’s Livestock Auction in Belen, NM who donated 13 head of cattle. Reilly then led a team of eight volunteers, including family members and friends, that prepared the arena, set up the pens and fencing, and hauled the cattle—young steers each weighing over 500 pounds. She is immensely thankful for the volunteers’ help.

Reilly signed four teams of three riders each (she was on one team herself) and also collected donations. In addition to raising the money, Reilly’s efforts won her a 4H scholarship to Horse School at the New Mexico State Fairgrounds. “The 4H program is amazing,” she says. “You learn responsibility and skills that will help you with your life.”

Through 4H, Reilly learned speaking and organizational skills and participated in many community service projects. These experiences have clearly helped her raise money for cancer research this year and will help her organize another event next year. “You have to get yourself out there,” she says. Her mother, Christine, adds, “She’s just 12 and in seventh grade. She planned and thought ahead and reached out to others—that’s really amazing. Her father and I are so proud of her.”

12-year old Reilly Holder presents the money she raised from her team penning competition to Cheryl Willman, MD, Director and CEO of the University of New Mexico Cancer Center, on November 1, 2012. Reilly organized and promoted the competition herself.

About the UNM Cancer Center
The UNM Cancer Center is the Official Cancer Center of New Mexico and the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in the state. One of just 67 NCI-designated cancer centers nationwide, the UNM Cancer Center is recognized for its scientific excellence, contributions to cancer research and delivery of medical advances to patients and their families. Annual federal and private funding of over $65 million supports the UNM Cancer Center’s research programs. The UNM Cancer Center treats 60 percent of the adults and virtually all of the children in New Mexico affected by cancer, from every county in the state. It is home to New Mexico’s largest team of board-certified oncology physicians and research scientists, representing every cancer specialty and hailing from prestigious institutions such as MD Anderson, Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic. Through its partnership with Memorial Medical Center in Las Cruces, the UNM Cancer Center brings world-class cancer care to the southern part of the state; its collaborative clinical programs in Santa Fe and Farmington serve northern New Mexico. The UNM Cancer Center also supports several community outreach programs to make cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment available to every New Mexican. Learn more at

UNM Cancer Center contact information
Dorothy Hornbeck, JKPR, (505) 340-5929,
Michele Sequeira, UNM Cancer Center, (505) 925-0486,



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