Mini Relay raises funds, awareness

Mountain View teacher Rebekah Ihlefeldt congratulated Mountain View guidance counselor Donna Porter (right), coordinator of the “Relay For Life” event.  (Photo by Tom Fontana)

Mountain View teacher Rebekah Ihlefeldt congratulated Mountain View guidance counselor Donna Porter (right), coordinator of the “Relay For Life” event. (Photo by Tom Fontana)

BY TOM FONTANA
Correspondent

If you passed by the Mountain View campus late last Friday, you might have thought a carnival was taking place.

There were tents and balloons; crowds milling about enjoying hot dogs, milkshakes and snacks; many with colorful painted faces; and – like on a merry-go-round -folks circling, circling, circling the track behind the high school.

There was definitely a circus atmosphere, but the main event in the center ring was the walkers – teams of family and friends supporting cancer survivors and remembering those who succumbed to the battle.

“Relay For Life” is a program created by the American Cancer Society, not only to promote cancer awareness, but also to raise money for cancer research and to fund programs for people battling the disease.

High school guidance counselor Donna Porter proposed the event last year, and the school community enthusiastically embraced it. “As a counselor, I talk to lots of our students who have been touched by cancer in some way,” she explained. “They either have a family member or know someone who has had to deal with cancer.”

Once Porter got the ball rolling, students, faculty, administrators and community members began forming committees to plan the 8-1/2 hour event, with the theme “The Colors of Cancer.” The main focus was on forming teams of walkers. Members of the teams would take turns walking, having at least one team member on the track throughout the event. Each team contributed a $10 registration fee.

Hundred of students and community members circled the track at Mountain View Jr. Sr. High School on Friday, May 30, for the “Relay For Life” event.  (Photo by Tom Fontana)

Hundred of students and community members circled the track at Mountain View Jr. Sr. High School on Friday, May 30, for the “Relay For Life” event. (Photo by Tom Fontana)

Walkers began moving at 2 p.m. on May 30, and cancer survivors took a ‘victory’ lap around the track at 6:30 p.m.

Trackside tents offered cancer information, face painting, refreshments, and support for the walkers. There were also some runners, and even a large game of musical chairs in the center of the soccer field, an alternative way to keep team members moving.

According to Porter, 45 teams participated, which totaled nearly 600 walkers. She predicted the event would raise over $10,000.

As of Monday, funds raised totaled almost $25,000, exceeding the preliminary expectations.

“The entire community was invited to participate,” Porter said. “But it’s also a great service project for our students, as well as helping them to increase empathy for others, develop teamwork skills, and turn grief and loss into something positive.”

At dusk, candles were lit in bags around the track to remember those lost to cancer. The ‘Luminaria Ceremony’ was a glowing tribute to loves ones, as well as those who served as their devoted caregivers.

In addition to monetary donations, local businesses donated other assistance, such as food, tents, golf carts and lighting.

Cindy Delaney, a ‘Relay For Life’ coordinator for the American Cancer Society, was impressed by the Mountain View event.

“We’ve had other events that went longer, even overnight,” she said, “but nothing this impressive, involving a whole school with such huge community support. The turnout is incredible!”

Although team members and volunteers didn’t have to stay for the whole event, most were still there after dark.

“It was so much fun and so emotional,” Porter concluded, “it was difficult for anyone to want to leave.”

Mountain View’s Relay is a precursor to the Susquehanna County Relay For Life main event, June 27-28 at the Montrose Area High School. The event is open to the public. You do not have to walk. There are games, activities, entertainment, food and so much more for the entire family. For more information on how you can be a part of Relay For Life, contact Cindy Delaney at 570-562-9749.