National Honors Society leaders of Relay for Life of Minooka Community High School hope to take a strike at cancer—Hawaiian style.
The annual event provides students, faculty, staff and community members the opportunity to take part in 7.5 hours of activities to raise money for a good cause.
Donna Engel, advisor to the National Honors Society of Minooka Community High School said, she thinks the school continues the tradition of hosting Relay for Life “because of how cancer has impacted Minooka Community High School staff, students, and their families.”
“When we hang banners, it reminds us we’re here to find a cure,” she said. “We don’t want to hang another banner. Three of them are enough. With the money we raise, we feel we’re doing our part to make sure a cure is found.”
Engel said the school has lost three teachers to cancer in the last six years, and two students died of cancer last year.
According to the American Cancer Society, data shows this year there will be approximately 140,690 cancer cases diagnosed and about 103,250 cancer deaths among the oldest populations in the U.S. Since 1991, the number of cancer death has been averted in 2.4 million cases.
Getting underway, Relay for Life kicked off with local cancer survivors coming together to walk the first lap of the event. Joining them were family, friends, co-workers and the caregivers.
Minooka Community High School teacher Trent Bontrager was parading the building during the survivors lap. He said he makes it a priority to take part in Relay for Life year after year.
“I had 12 scans, and they all came back clean,” he said, referring to his battle with brain cancer. “It’s been almost five years now.”
Bontrager said participating in the event brings great meaning to him, in part, because the “school community rallied support and brought donations to help my family and I.”
“I was diagnosed in May of 2014,” he said. “The teaching staff of Minooka Community High School took donations to an amazing amount. I couldn’t believe the support.”
Bontrager said he wishes more people realized how amazing the new cancer treatments are.
“There’s a lot of hope for people diagnosed with cancer with these new treatments,” he said. “The only way I’m here is because of the new treatments, knowledgeable physicians, and chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The treatments are very pinpoint accurate. It’s the reason I survived.”
A new lap would begin every half hour, and each one featured a different theme.
Engel said organizers weren’t keeping record of steps, but every lap around the building equates to one-quarter of a mile.
Minooka Community High School senior student Grace McClimon said seeing the way the community came together for Relay for Life is humbling.
“I’m blow away by the event,” she said. “People came up with different themes for the laps. … Having the different community organizations involved, I’m thankful for that.”
Officials said the goal is to raise $12,000 to donate to the American Cancer Society to help support cancer patients
This year’s Relay for Life generated an estimated $1,500 in donations through the day of the event. Proceeds are allowed until Sept. 1 through the high school’s website.