Local high school students rev up Relay for Life fundraisers
May 22, 2012
Relay — ‘a way to live’
The death of a loved one to cancer is why most people partake in the annual Relay for Life fundraising event. But Michael Cecil, a junior at Issaquah High School, has a unique and inspiring story with regards to how and why he is a “relayer.” Cecil’s mother has been diagnosed with five rare kinds of cancer throughout his life and has survived each diagnosis.
His mother’s diagnosis inspired Michael to get into Relay as a way for him and his siblings to “do something about (their) mom’s cancer.” He didn’t view it as a way of giving back, but rather as a way of “fighting back” the terrible disease that has haunted his family.
After 10 years of doing Relay for Life, it hasn’t gotten old for Cecil because it is “a way to live.” The way of life that Relay has instilled in him comes out most, he said, when he realizes that one must always fight on and have a good attitude about life.
Michael is a major leader in planning this year’s event and hopes it will raise $300,000. But that can’t happen without everyone’s help.
“We should all Relay so that we can win!” he said.
Cancer — ‘a stupid disease’
“I Relay because I lost a childhood friend and my grandfather to cancer,” Liberty High School senior Fiona Kine said. “It is a stupid disease.”
Kine’s grandmother has beaten cancer three times, and has been in remission for two years since her most recent battle.
Kine has participated in Relay for Life for the past three years and intends to participate again this year. Her personal connection to cancer has inspired her to take part in the event, which celebrates the lives of those affected by cancer and attempts to raise money to aid in cancer research.
During her freshman year, Kine and her parents formed their own team. For the past two years of Relay for Life, Kine participated on a team with Liberty’s all-girl science club, the Physettes. She also donated her hair for cancer patients. This year, Kine and other Liberty seniors will join together to extend her run to four years of participation.
“The thing that gets me every year is the lap of silence,” Kine said. “We decorate paper bags, light candles inside the bags and arrange them to spell out ‘HOPE’ on the bleachers. It’s truly amazing to see.”
Relay for Life — then and now
At the end of each school year, Skyline High School students gather on the field for Relay For Life, walking around the track for 24 hours to join the fight against cancer and the pursuit of celebrating more birthdays.
Anyone can become involved and make a difference by raising money; the event started in 1985 in Tacoma with Dr. Gordy Klat, who ran 24 hours and raised $27,000. The event has since raised $4.25 billion with 3.5 million participants in 21 countries.
The Issaquah Relay For Life has been extremely successful in the past; $285,000 was raised last year. The goal this year is to raise $300,000. While it is a community event, there was a huge youth presence last year: more than 50 percent of attendees were teens and children.
Bill Zheng, co-chairman of Issaquah Relay For Life, said he’s excited for Relay this year “because almost 1,000 people from all ages will be in one place celebrating life, remembering those who have lost their battles with cancer and fighting back against this disease.”
Indeed, June 2 will mark a gathering of a community joined together to support a good cause.
Relays — they welcome all
Relay For Life, an overnight fundraising relay, is known across the country as a symbol of hope, strength and community.
So it is fitting that, although Eastside Catholic High School does not host its own Relay For Life, other local Relays embrace these students and allow them to participate in their events.
Many students have walked in Relays at local high schools, as well as those all over the state, and have been welcomed with open arms. Eastside Catholic senior Amanda Tsitsis attended Relay For Life at Eastlake High School in 2010.
“My group’s theme was Colors of the Rainbow! I was the color red,” she said.
Last year, senior Michaela O’Rourke attended Relay For Life at Skyline High School.
“It was amazing to see the sense of community and the way that everyone rallied together around such a great cause,” she said. “I can’t wait to do it again this year!”
There are several groups of students that will be attending the local Relays again this year. Students are excited about the event and are sure that the Relays will be as successful — and fun — this year as they have been in the past.