• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Huntertown students raise $1,348.35 for Relay team

STUDENT-LEADERS at Huntertown Elementary, pictured, organized "Dime Madness," a fund-raiser benefiting their school's Relay for Life team. Team Huntertown will participate in its third consecutive Relay for Life of Woodford County on Friday, May 20, and Saturday, May 21, from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. in the parking lot of Falling Springs Arts and Recreation Center at 275 Beasley Road. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

Students at Huntertown Elementary School raised $1,348.35 in dimes - and one nickel - for their school's Relay for Life team. "Dime Madness" was their opportunity to support Team Huntertown, which participates in the community's annual American Cancer Society fundraising walk at the Falling Springs Arts and Recreation Center parking lot. Huntertown's student-leadership team organized "Dime Madness," but they had no expectation of how many dimes students would contribute - in just five days. "We were really surprised because so many people brought in so many dimes," said third-grader Kendall Brandenburg, 9. After Kendall and other members of the student-leadership team explained how "Dime Madness" was going to help people with cancer, every class was given a chart so students could track how many dimes they had contributed. Four classes donated more than $100 in dimes - bursting the tops of their water bottles, according to speech/language pathologist Mandy Smith. "These kiddos have taken ownership of this (Relay for Life) team by raising this amount of money," said Smith. "And it definitely inspires the adults to get out there and fund-raise a little bit more because this was totally student-led. So if they can raise over $1,300 surely to goodness we can raise more than $100 individually." Third-graders Caden Forry and Isabella Bryant described "Dime Madness" as a way for Huntertown students to help people after a life-changing cancer diagnosis. They want their donations to help families who may not have enough money to pay for surgeries and other treatments, added fourth-grader Peyton Whitaker. "Everybody - sometime in their life - they're affected by cancer," said Peyton, 9. "Whether it's a family member, whether they have it themselves . there are so many different kinds of cancer like lung cancer, colon cancer and it's just . affecting so many people. "I think it's a really a sad and bad disease." Huntertown Elementary School formed its Relay for Life team two years ago. Team Robyn was organized in honor of longtime instructional assistant Robyn Giles, a breast cancer survivor. Having a team formed in her honor "meant that they supported me in every step of my battle. Not only the school, the community," said Giles. She now describes their support as "loving me through the worst part of my whole entire life." With two more cancer survivors now on staff, Huntertown's Relay for Life team was renamed Team Huntertown last year - a year when the school raised $5,900 for the American Cancer Society fund-raising walk. "It is very, very touching to have so many people donate," said Giles. And knowing Huntertown's team was organized to support her after a cancer diagnosis was "humbling . very humbling." "I found my strength through this team," added Giles. "Dime Madness" became an opportunity for students to support Team Huntertown "and they obviously did," said Smith. "They took the ball and ran." Students will now have an opportunity to walk with Team Huntertown during Relay for Life of Woodford County on May 20 and 21 where they'll become more aware of how cancer affects so many lives. Witnessing last year's luminaria service was meaningful to 9-year-old Peyton because she knew every bag illuminated by a candle was in honor of a cancer survivor or in memory of someone who died of cancer.

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