Students participate in annual Relay for Life event

Emma Zander

By Michael Sande

Once a year, students and faculty gather in the Homestead field house to participate in the globally recognized fundraising event Relay For Life. Students check into this event from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., bringing in sleeping bags, snacks and fundraising money to carry them until the end of the event at 5:30 a.m.

The story behind Relay centers around a single man, Dr. Gordy Klatt. Relayforlife.org reports that Dr. Klatt spent 24 hours in May of 1985 to raise money to fight against cancer by walking the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. In this 24 hour period, through pledges alone, $27,000 was raised, and a revolutionary way to help fight cancer was born.

This popular fundraising event made its way to Homestead seven years ago. Mr. Scott Nettesheim, mathematics and computer science teacher and faculty sponsor of Relay, said, “[Relay For Life] has grown to the point where 500 kids have attended the event and recently have raised in excess of $30,000 annually.” This year, participants raised $41,138.54, making it the most successful relay in Homestead history.

Fundraising is propelled by hourly events that serve to keep the students awake throughout the night. The evening kicked off at 7 p.m. with the opening ceremony which contained an outstanding performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” by Zach Mayer, senior, followed by the survivors lap.

As walkers dispersed across the track and back to their camp sites, more activities followed. Kids threw water balloons at Mr. Brett Bowers, principal, participated in a pie eating contest and played a class vs. class game of musical chairs. Katie McCarthy, freshman and competitor in musical chairs, comically reflected on her competition, “I got pushed out of my chair by the winner; does that mean I technically got second place?”

A more somber mood set in around 10 p.m. as the participants remembered those fighting, those who lost the battle and those who survived the fight with cancer through the luminaria ceremony. This ceremony involves the lighting of paper bags which have been decorated by a loved one or friend for someone they know who has been affected by cancer. “The luminaria ceremony was very emotional, seeing how many people are affected by cancer,” Kelsey Wagner, senior, said.

The rest of the night continued with the normal pattern of one activity per hour. The arrival of a hypnotist, zumba, a boy auction, wing-eating contest, frozen shirt challenge, 3 v. 3 basketball tournament and breakfast all followed.

There is still time to donate to the Homestead High School fundraising total. Click here to help the cause.