Tartan, North gear up for Relay for Life

A “Survivor Lap” celebrates the lives of those who have battled cancer. (submitted photo)

Schools invite community members to join in the festivities

Both Tartan and North high schools are preparing for one of their most popular annual events -- Relay for Life.

Tartan’s event will be held this Friday, May 17, and North’s Relay for Life will be held Friday, May 31.

Tartan High School hit the million-dollar mark last year for total funds raised in 10 years, but that doesn’t mean the students are slowing down. Between 700 and 800 kids are involved in this year’s event, notes Tartan Relay coordinator Jan Churchill, and their goal is to raise $160,000.

Last year Tartan raised $129,000 and was ranked ninth in the nation for the amount of funds raised. As of last week, the school had already raised $81,000.

With between 400 and 500 students involved in this year’s Relay for Life at North High School, North Relay coordinator Aron Helm said the school has set their goal at $50,000. As of last week, North students had already raised nearly $17,000. They raised close to $37,000 in 2012.

Teams from both schools are each required to raise at least $1,000 total or $100 per team member. The funds raised are donated to the American Cancer Society.

A cause close to the heart

Churchill said Tartan’s Relay for Life event is a cause that’s near and dear to students’ hearts. The school has lost five students to cancer in the 11 years that the event has been at Tartan, and this year a junior at Tartan was diagnosed with leukemia.

“This is a huge personal fight for Tartan High School,” Churchill said. She explained that a cancer diagnosis “becomes a fight for life, and they (students) understand that.”

The fight is personal for North students as well. North Relay for Life committee members explained that nearly everyone participating in the event has a family member or friend who has battled cancer. Committee member Spencer Whyte’s grandfather passed away from lymphoma, committee member Zander Fisher’s father battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and committee member Nicole Krings’ uncle passed away from brain cancer.

Many kids go on to participate in or start a Relay for Life event when they get to college, Churchill and Helm noted, and the event provides students with a valuable opportunity to build their leadership skills while supporting a good cause.

Looking for support

Churchill said Tartan students have been hard at work fundraising for Relay through car washes, garage sales and by selling other special items.

Some Tartan teams were again selling their popular egg rolls during lunch hour at the school, and the much-loved “Courtney’s Cookies” will be sold at Relay again this year. The student selling them has been doing so ever since her grandmother passed away from ovarian cancer several years ago, Churchill noted, and community members who’d like to donate cookies for her sale can call Tartan at 651-702-8600 to find out how.

Also this year, Tartan will be selling raffle tickets at the Relay, and those who purchase tickets will be eligible to win cash prizes or tickets to a Twins/Yankees game. Some teams are also selling T-shirts commemorating the five Tartan students who have passed away from cancer over the past 10 years, as well as buttons for $1 with the name of Alex Crowley - a Tartan student who passed away from cancer last year. Many students will wear the buttons this week and will also sport them at graduation in remembrance of Crowley, who would have graduated alongside them this year, Churchill said.

North students have also been working diligently to raise funds for Relay for Life, Helm said, and many have been going door to door in the community to solicit donations and invite as many community members as possible to attend the event.

“The kids have actually been very creative in their fundraising efforts,” Helm added.

Whyte’s team is selling bracelets for either $3 or $5, and each is a different color to represent different forms of cancer.

Students from Tartan and North have also sold mass amounts of candy for Relay for Life, as well as candles that were donated by Yankee Candle Company.

Both schools will be hosting a silent auction at their respective events, and North Relay for Life committee members said they’re still soliciting items that can be donated for their silent auction. Anyone interested in donating can contact Helm at Ahelm2@isd622.org.

North Relay for Life committee members also said they’re hoping that some local businesses might be willing to help them achieve their $50,000 goal by agreeing to match funds raised by particular teams.

Churchill said Tartan is in need of cans of food to hold down the luminaria bags that will be lighted during a ceremony to honor friends and family members who have passed away from cancer. The cans can be dropped off at Tartan before the event or brought to Relay, and will be donated to the North St. Paul Food Shelf after the event is over.

Two don’t-miss events

Both Tartan and North high schools are encouraging community members to attend their Relay for Life events, which will be jam-packed with activities for students as well as members of the public.

In addition to the luminaria ceremonies, both events will feature guest speakers and a “Survivor Lap” around the tracks. There will also be live music and concessions at each.

Churchill noted Tartan will also be featuring an activity this year in which people can write a note to a loved one who has passed away from cancer and then tie that message to a balloon that will be released into the sky. Some Tartan students will also be getting into costumes for a “Superhero Lap” where spectators will be able to hand cash donations to their favorite superhero walking around the track.

In addition to some fun sporting activities including a volleyball tournament, soccer games and a tug of war, North will also offer community members chances to donate at their event. Those who attend can visit the donation booth or find a committee member who can point them in the right direction.

Those who can’t attend but would still like to donate can visit relayforlife.org and search for Tartan or North high schools, or individual teams, even after the events are over.

Alex Holmquist can be reached at aholmquist@lillienews.com or 651-748-7822.

If you go

The Tartan High School Relay for Life will be held Friday, May 17, at the track at the high school, located at 828 Greenway Ave. N. in Oakdale.

The North High School Relay for Life will be held Friday, May 31, at the high school’s track, 2416 11th Ave. E. in North St. Paul.

Both events open to the public at 6 p.m.


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