More than 500 Dolby Elementary students, parents and community members walked around a makeshift track Tuesday morning in honor of cancer survivors and in memory those who lost their battles to that illness.
The walk was a part of the school’s first “Relay for Recess” event, an event designed to bring the American Cancer Society’s “Relay for Life” to the classroom.
“By bringing it to the classroom and down to the students’ level, we can help them understand more about cancer and what the American Cancer Society does,” said Ariel Caraway, the community representative for ACS. “It gets them more involved.”
In addition to walking a lap, students also participated in other games, like tug of war and a beach ball pass. They could pay $1 to have the chance to dunk their teachers in a dunk tank.
Dolby students also donated money in order to wear jeans to the event instead of their usual uniforms.
“I think they love it. They are all so excited, but I think the dunking booth has been the biggest hit,” said Heather Lindsay, a third-grade teacher and one of the event’s organizers.
Carl Barrow, a fifth-grader and the student council president, said that the “Relay for Recess” hit home for him.
“My grandpa was saved by cancer research. They told him that he had three months to live, then he got to do an experiment and he survived,” Barrow said. “I was just a baby at the time, so I would not have gotten to know him if it weren’t for cancer research.”
Although Barrow’s grandpa lives too far away to attend the event, other survivors and relatives of Dolby students came out to participate.
DeeDee Savoy is the grandmother of kindergartener Halle Ortego and fifth-grader Alec Ortego. She is a 20-year survivor of breast cancer.
“I think it’s important for the children to know the meaning of supporting people with cancer,” Savoy said. “You don’t need to fear it, you just need to support your loved ones. That’s the beauty of this Relay for Recess event.”
The Ortegos’ grandfather on the other side of the family is also a cancer survivor and attended the event with his grandchildren.
“It means something to my grandkids that I’m out here,” said Robert Ortego, a stomach cancer survivor. “I hope this event gives them an awareness of what is going on.”
Dolby students have been collecting money for ACS for a few weeks. The school hosted a Hats Off to Cancer event in which students donated to wear a hat at school. They also collected spare change in “penny jars” to donate to the cause.
Dolby collected $2,400 to donate to ACS.
Dolby is not the only Calcasieu Parish school to participate in “Relay for Recess.” Three other schools are joining with ACS’s fundraising and education efforts.
“This is our first year to bring Relay for Recess to Calcasieu,” Caraway said. “It’s going great. The way it’s designed, each school can make it as big or as small as they want. They can personalize it to make it really fit for their school.”
Vincent Settlement Elementary held its “Relay for Recess” event last Friday and raised around $1,000 for ACS.
Vinton Elementary will host “Relay for Recess” on Thursday, and Prien Lake Elementary will host the event Friday. Parents, community members and cancer survivors are invited to attend, donate and participate in the festivities.