Students at Pulaski Elementary gathered on Friday during their physical education time to help aid the drive to fight cancer.
The students obtained sponsors and walked laps around the school’s track to help raise money for Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society. As a small reward, they were also given temporary tattoos with the Relay for Life logo on them and also had music playing as they walked.
Three physical education teachers at the school – Garry Ross, Scotty Scott, and Kim Nelson – helped to organize the event, along with Michele Hayes, who is the publicity coordinator for Relay for Life of Pulaski County
Nelson spoke about what went into organizing an event like this for the school and community.
"The planning starts a couple of months prior to the event," Nelson said. "We have an assembly two weeks before this event and we have someone from Relay for Life come to explain to them about the event and talk to them about cancer and how to prevent some of it by using sunscreen. They give them envelopes, too, and they have two weeks to collect the money. Then they bring it in on the day of the walk."
Many of those involved in helping to organize the event each had a connection to the disease, which helped to motivate them further in their effort.
"It really means a lot to us," Nelson said. "Scotty’s mom died of cancer and my grandmother died of cancer. Different people from our lives have been affected. This is real important to us and we want to instill that into the youngsters, so they can give that back to the community. Overall, this is a fun day for everybody."
Ross and Scott related how important an event like this is to these young students.
"This gives the kids a chance to do something as a group, as a class, and as a school," Ross said. "They also learn to appreciate some of the things that have gone on in some of their families – like their uncles, aunts, or even parents. It gives them a better understanding of how to help somebody else. I think that is the biggest thing."
"I don’t think it matters how old you are," Scott said. "My daughter is in first grade and she knows the importance of it because she lost her paw paw to cancer. She took a lot of pride in raising the money, which (was) about $85. Most of these kids put forth a lot of effort. It’s not just about raising the money for walking. As a faculty, we have talked to them about what the walk is for and I think they all have a realization of what that is."
Hayes was extremely touched with the support from the community for the event because of her extremely close bond with the disease.
"It has really meant a lot to me, especially being a cancer survivor and seeing the excitement in the kids," Hayes said. "Personally for me, it has meant a lot to be involved with it this year and just to have a hands-on experience. I’ve walked in relays before, but I’ve never had the hands-on experience before. Coming out and seeing how excited they get brings joy to me. It brings joy to me to see kids come up and say ‘you’re a survivor’ and ask me questions. They seem to really be interested in it."
After all was said and done, Pulaski Elementary raised a grand total of $3,845.95 for Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society.
The fourth grade raised the most money, with a whopping $764.75. Third grade came in second with $751.53, and first grade was third with $724.76. Other totals raised were $590.64 from second graders, $552.77 from kindergartners, and $340.50 from fifth graders.
The top overall individual fundraisers received prizes from Relay for Life. The top fundraiser was third grader Jeremy Ferguson, who was able to raise $220.
The following students were top fundraisers for their individual grades: Kindergartner Madison Meade ($120), first graders Kelsi Pack and Gage Gregory ($150 each), second grader Makenzie Reno ($150), fourth grader Travis Byrd ($80), and fifth grader Madison Nelson ($69).
"I am so very proud of the children of Pulaski Elementary school," said Hayes. "I really wanted to convey to them my thanks for what they are doing by raising money to fight back against cancer. Being a cancer survivor myself, it means so much to me and brings me such joy to see them put their hearts into this and really enjoy helping out this way. It was such an amazing day!"
Snowville Elementary School will hold its Relay For Life event May 28 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Pulaski Middle School’s is June 2 from 8:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.