Walnut Hills students raise $2,300 for Mini-Relay For Life event

By Cory Smith • Last Updated 11:12 am on Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Students at Walnut Hills Elementary School play a game involving a giant parachute Monday afternoon at the Mini-Relay for Life event. — Daily News/Cory Smith

GREENVILLE — Don Sherrick has difficulty walking for extended periods of time without experiencing pain in his legs, but that didn’t stop the cancer survivor from walking the initial lap of the Mini-Relay For Life event Monday afternoon at Walnut Hills Elementary School.

With two great-grandchildren attending the school, he was as proud as any great-grandfather could be to see that they and their fellow students had raised $2,300 to help battle the disease.

First grade students at Walnut Hills Elementary School participate in a game of tug-of-war Monday afternoon. — Daily News/Cory Smith

“Just to watch them, the energy they have, it’s great, because when you get cancer you lose everything,” he said.

Don suffered from lung and prostate cancer and has been cancer-free for eight years, but lost his wife to pancreatic cancer.

Don’s son, Bob Sherrick, said he was equally proud of his granddaughter and all of the students at the school.

“The amount of money they raised is just awesome, it’s off the chart, and just by bringing in pennies,” he said.

The 420 students at the school spent two weeks in a “penny wars” race. Students would place pennies into their own classrooms’ bucket to accumulate points, and place nickels, dimes and quarters into opposing classroom buckets to deduct points.

In doing so, students at Walnut Hills officially raised $2,300, surpassing last year’s total of $1,500.

Principal Susan Ayres said she was glad to see the event already more successful in just its second  year.

“I’m just amazed at these kids, I’m very proud of them,” she said. “We didn’t want the kids focused on beating a goal and forgetting the purpose of today, and they succeeded.”

The mini-relay was combined with field day events to keep the students active and engaged. Events included dancing to music provided by a DJ, tug-of-war, parachute games, tag, and other events.

In the center was the grass relay track itself, which consistently had two classrooms of students walking and running the track at all times throughout the school day.

From left, Walnut Hills Elementary School kindergarten students Owen Gillmer, 6, Alexandra Woodward, 6, Kostos Tsoukalas, 6, and Justice Nai, 6, sprint together during on the grass track of the Mini-Relay for Life event on the school playground. — Daily News/Cory Smith

Event development coordinator Lauren LaTarte with the American Cancer Society said the students could not have done more of an amazing job in their efforts to raise money.

“I have to give all the kudos to the students,” she said. “It’s all of their efforts. They’re learning about cancer prevention and they are fundraising toward the better good.”

LaTarte said she was happy to see the school seeing success once again after starting the event last year.

“This is one of my favorite school events to work on,” she said. “They really engage the community. There are adults here who are survivors and caregivers who don’t necessarily have students here.  They invite them to come and see what the students are doing. Not every school does that, engaging the community in that way.”

The Montcalm County Relay for Life event will be June 14-15 at Greenville High School.

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