Rockford schools rally around Relay—Part III

by CINDY M. CRANMER

This is a continued summary of what each school in Rockford Public Schools has come up with to contribute to the Rockford Relay for Life. Encouraging each school to organize their own fundraiser has been a goal of Relay organizers from year one. May 18-19 was the town’s 10th Relay for Life event.

Mike Ramm, principal for East Rockford Middle School (ERMS), said the school is always actively involved with a team and works hard at raising donations especially through a mini walk-a-thon.

The ERMS mini walk-a-thon raised $7,732 by the approximately 270 students who participated, according to staff members Deb Pomarius and Kelly Darling, ERMS Relay for Life captains.

The ERMS “East Defeets Cancer” Relay for Life team decorated foot decals either in memory of someone or in honor of survivors during the walk-a-thon.

Other fundraising activities included a hula contest during the walk-a-thon. Pomarius said this is a way for students to be involved as it can be hard for students to participate in the Rockford Relay for Life with weekend sporting event conflicts.

“The ERMS walk-a-thon event has been our most successful and most profitable in funds raised to fight cancer and has allowed more middle school students to be a part of Relay for Life in a meaningful way,” Pomarius said. “One benefit of the walk-a-thon is that if the students enjoy this activity enough, it motivates many of them to attend the actual Relay for Life event in Rockford.”

Sixteen ERMS students have registered as 24-hour walkers, which is a feat that is challenging even as an adult.

Other fundraisers include creating and selling duct tape accessories and crazy critters, which are similar to Ugly Dolls, at the ERMS tent during the event. A used book sale and henna tattoos are two other items that ERMS will have for sale during the Relay for Life.

Bob Siegel, Valley View Elementary principal, said their biggest event is a 24-minute relay where students walk one minute per every hour for the Relay for Life. “The kids’ version has raised over $5,000,” he said.

Other events include a staff luncheon and jean days where staff pay $20 to wear jeans for the month of May.

“Most staff members pay and then don’t wear jeans,” Siegel said.

Lakes Principal Blake Bowman described the school as “passionate” about helping raise money for the Relay for Life as cancer touches a lot of people.

Events include a mini relay event with booths for activities and trinkets, a chalk the walk, a staff bake sale, spirit week, jean days, T-shirt sale, penny races and participation in the event. The mini relay includes booths where students can buy trinkets or participate in an activity for a quarter at each stop.

“It’s been a positive energy and community building thing,” Bowman said.

Sara Brown, a second-grade teacher who job shares with the other Relay for Life coordinator at Lakes, said she and Sarah Taylor try to get both students and staff involved as they are trying to raise $4,000.

The staff members have a bake sale for students while parents put together a luncheon that staff can then pay to participate in.

The penny races involve the students as they compete boys versus girls with pennies being positive points and silver being negative or taking points from the other team. The team closest to zero, which is the case as people put silver in the competing team, wins at the end of the week.

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