Teams already raising funds for ‘Relay for Life’

By KAYLA HURLEY

News Intern

As Relay for Life approaches in April, local teams have already started raising money to support cancer research.

A team of teachers and staff members at Jones-Wheat Elementary School are already working together to raise money for the cause. The team, made of 19 staff members, is dedicated to Relay for a special reason this year.

Student Jeremy Backey, age 8, was recently diagnosed with bone cancer. He is currently undergoing many experimental treatments that are possible because of money raised through Relay for Life. Lauren Turner, coordinator of the Jones-Wheat team, is striving towards large figures in 2012.

“This year we are centering our efforts to honor Jeremy,” Turner said. “We have been selling rubber bracelets and buttons with his picture to raise money.”

Jones-Wheat has also been selling “Jean Passes,” that allow staff to wear jeans to work on certain days. Alongside passes, the team has sold raffle tickets for baked goods and a chance to win a Christmas tree.

“Cancer touches everyone,” Turner said. “Whether it is a family member, friend or colleague — everyone is affected in one way or another.”

Hutto Middle School has a list of fundraising activities lined up to reach their goals this year.

The school will be promoting friendly competition between classrooms by collecting dimes from students. At the end of the fundraiser, the school will provide a pizza party for the classroom with the most money in their bucket. The Hutto team will also be selling honorary luminaries that will be displayed around the track during the April Relay for Life.

Alicia Gordon, the Hutto team coordinator and a cancer survivor, has been assisting with Relay for Life for 15 years.

“People come together [during Relay] because they want to put an end to this disease,” Gordon said. “They want research to continue.”

Chealsea Austin, American Cancer Society staff partner for 2012, recognizes the efforts of the 16 currently participating teams.

“The teams have some fun and interesting fundraisers planned,” Austin said.

Among others, Austin noted the plan for Elcan-King Elementary School in Bainbridge. Students at Elcan-King are receiving a different prize for raising money in their coin cans. The school is allowing the winning classroom to throw water balloons at their assistant principal — a prize many students are excited to compete for.

In 2011, Decatur County raised $59,642 during Relay for Life. This year, Austin hopes to see that number increase.

“So many people are universally touched by cancer,” Austin said. “Every dollar we raise benefits finding a cure.”

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