Mill Valley students energized by huge response to plans for Relay For Life
A group of students looking to fight cancer got more than they bargained for when they asked their teachers and classmates for their support.
After strategically spreading the word that Mill Valley High School would have its own Relay For Life event to benefit the American Cancer Society this spring, Isabel Crain and her friends expected maybe 100 to 150 students to attend a sign-up rally event Jan. 27. But more than double that amount found their way to the school’s theater to learn about the event.
“Which was absolutely insane,” Crain said. “If we had 10 more people show up we wouldn’t have been able to fit in our theater. … It was fun standing on the stage and watching these people pile into the little theater — I like the fact that our school community is so passionate about making a difference that a third of our school showed up.”
Their goal is to raise $25,000 with their event April 1, but given the response so far?
“I’m starting to think we might be able to surpass that,” Crain said.
The idea for Mill Valley to have its own fundraising event started years ago. Crain explained that she and her friends were inspired to attend area relay events by their friend’s mother, who battled cancer multiple times.
“She was a single mom and had two daughters, and she ended up passing away,” Crain said. “She was a role model in my life, and it’s just something I do for her and for people in that same type of situation.”
Megan Feuerborn, co-chair for the Mill Valley relay, explained they first attended a Relay For Life at Olathe North, then attended the Shawnee-Lenexa Relay For Life for the past two years. During the event, teams that have raised funds for the event walk on a track from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. to symbolize the and have games and other activities to raise more funds.
“It was an experience we enjoyed,” said Megan Feuerborn, Crain’s co-chair of the Mill Valley event, explaining that portions of the relay, like the luminaria ceremony for those who currently have cancer and those who have died, made a special impact. “It just kind of reminds you why you’re actually there. While you’re having a fun time with your friends, you just kind of have that moment where it hits you that this is for a good cause and you’re actually making a difference.”
But a Relay For Life of the Jaguar Nation, as the students decided to call it, came to life last year when Crain and other friends in the Sociology of Community Service class were assigned a final project to identify a problem in the community and do something to address that problem.
“For a couple of years now, we’ve been saying, ‘We should do this with our school; I don’t know how to make it happen, but we should do it, it would be really cool,’” Crain said. “So six or seven of us are in the community service class and decided that this was definitely our opportunity to make it happen.”
A planning committee was formed to begin work on the event in the fall semester, drawing members from various school groups, from the football team to Science Olympiad.
“We strategized a little bit trying to pick who was going to be on the committee that planned it,” Crain said. “We have people from all different groups in the school and every grade is represented well.”
They spent the fall semester in planning mode, working with an American Cancer Society coordinator, and slowly started putting the word out about the relay in December, promoting the Jan. 27 rally heavily after winter break.
Still, the massive turnout was gratifying — they had hoped for 15 teams of four to 20 people, but they now commitments from more than 35 teams.
“Being on the stage and looking out at everybody was very exciting; it got us very excited for the event,” Feuerborn said.
“It was like, ‘Look at all these people, look at what we’ve done,’” added Camille Gatapia, another member of the planning committee. “Walking down the hallway and hearing people talk about their Relay For Life team is one of the coolest things ever.”
The Mill Valley relay will begin at 6 p.m. April 1 and run until 6 a.m. April 2 at the school’s track. Students, staff and team members may stay all night; members of the public are invited to participate in the silent auction and other fundraising games until midnight.
For more information, follow @JagRFL on Twitter or visit relayforlife.org and search for Jaguar Nation.
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