When it comes to conversations about cancer today, almost everyone has a personal story to tell. Whether it”s losing a loved one, seeing someone close to you fight the disease, or going through it yourself, cancer has an effect on us all.
The Gwinnett community has brought awareness to cancer through Relay For Life, an overnight team event that has been hosted in the county for the last 28 years. The Gwinnett Relay For Life is one of the largest Relay events in the world and has raised more than $30 million since its inception. In 2013, the event will take place on May 10 to 11 at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds.
For students at North Gwinnett High School, Gwinnett Relay For Life is an event they”re wholeheartedly passionate about supporting. With more than 250 members, the school”s Relay team has worked year after year to raise money and awareness to help create a world with less cancer and more birthdays – and this year is no exception. Seniors Adam Flieger, Chloe Mack, Taylor Walter and junior Abbi Price are the backbone of the North Gwinnett High School”s Relay For Life Student Executive Board and lead their team members in fundraising efforts to be one of the largest raising schools in the county.
But what encourages each of these young adults to participate in Relay For Life? With college applications, school, friends, and family requirements, why devote the time?
Mack shares her reasoning: “I Relay because my dad and my grandfather both had cancer. When I found out about my dad, it tore me up and I wanted to make sure nobody else had to go through that experience.”# Price also comments, “I got involved in Relay For Life as a freshman. I had a friend that was in his twenties and recently married who had cancer. We didn”t think much about it because we assumed he”d be able to fight it easily, and he ended up passing away. Since then, my friend”s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, my grandma is battling multiple types of cancer, and my uncle is currently not making it through cancer.”#
With individual accounts about cancer from each of the student board members, it”s easy to see why they”re each enthusiastic about Relay and excited to encourage others to become involved. “Our peers see how much fun we have hosting our events and participating in Relay, which persuades them to join our team. Plus, everyone at North Gwinnett is very competitive whether it”s between each other or our rival schools. The desire to be the best drives us,”# Walter says.
With an ambitious goal of reaching $115,000, the students have come up with a number of fundraising opportunities for 2013. For March, they have four events on the books including two of their biggest, the MORP (March 15) and Miss Suwanee (March 30).
“The MORP is prom spelled backwards and it”s an casual dance organized by the students. Instead of dressing up like you would for prom, students can dress really crazy and fun,”# says Flieger. “We”ll have a DJ booth in the middle of the floor and be selling T-shirts to benefit Relay.”# Last year, the students raised approximately $8,000 from the dance with hopes to exceed that number this time around.
The school will also be hosting Miss Suwanee, a community pageant and the Relay team”s highest grossing event to date. However Miss Suwanee is not your typical glitz and glam pageant. This event is open for everyone to participate – from babies to senior citizens. And there are no tulle princess dresses required! Simply blue jeans and a white T-shirt are all you need. “Contestants are able to design their jeans any way they want and they can add their own accessories. All ages and groups are welcome, including men. This is an event for everyone!”# says Walter.
North Gwinnett High School”s theme for 2013 is Viva Las Relay: What Happens at Relay, Cures Cancer. This is a perfect theme for a team who develops fun and innovative fundraising events to make sure cancer never steals another year of anyone”s life. They believe it takes one team, one participant and one dollar at a time.
The team recently raised close to $3,000 at the school”s talent show. Some of the other fundraising events scheduled include a yard sale, an art auction, and a Mr. North Gwinnett event.
The team also believes it”s important to get cancer survivors to participate. “We”re trying to recruit survivors and let them know they”re welcome to be part of our team. We need them at Relay because they”re the reason we do what we do,”# says Mack. “Plus, the more people we recruit, the more money we”ll raise to support cancer awareness and research,”# comments Flieger.
For more information on North Gwinnett High School”s Relay Team and participating in this year”s event, visit gwinnettrelayforlife.org.