High-energy fundraiser for cancer research approaching - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

High-energy fundraiser for cancer research approaching

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Posted: Wednesday, April 7, 2010 11:00 pm

Ahwatukee Foothills students and community members are planning to pull an all-nighter later this month. And they’re looking for more people to join them.

The American Cancer Society’s 2010 Ahwatukee Relay for Life is approaching April 18. While participants can register up until the event, team captains have just two more chances to attend pre-relay captain meetings on April 8 and 15.

The Relay for Life is an all-night event where teams pledge to walk around a track to raise money for cancer research. Team members take turns walking and participating in other activities and fundraisers going on around the track.

Relays take place in more than 5,000 communities around the world. This is the ninth year Ahwatukee Foothills has hosted a relay, said event chair Mark Honaker.

Many relays feature similar elements, such as a lap walked by cancer survivors to start the evening and a luminaria ceremony after nightfall to honor victims who have passed away.

But the Ahwatukee Foothills relay has some other features, especially since the vast majority of teams are made up of school clubs and sports teams. About 95 percent of participants are usually students, Honaker said.

“We’ve gained quite a bit of acclaim due to the predominant youth involvement,” Honaker said. “This is a genuine opportunity for (students) to work together in the collective to benefit others, which is a potential that sometimes goes untapped.”

That’s led to a lot of high-energy events during the relay. This year’s will feature bands on two stages and a halo tournament.

Teams have also come up with creative ways to raise money during the relay, like running rickshaws and setting up “jails” that participants can pay to lock their friends in, Honaker said.

Students groups are also planning to sell special Relay for Life calendars and are planning a post-relay volleyball tournament to raise money.

At the relay, teams have to dress up according to a theme. Since this year’s event is called “Time for a Cure,” every group will dress according to a time period of their choice.

Troy Honaker, Mark’s nephew and captain of one of the participating teams, said his group is wearing ’50s paraphenalia. This is the third year the Desert Vista senior is participating.

“It’s just a great event to raise money for people with cancer,” Honaker said. “At the end, it’s a big event where you’re all hanging out. You’re having a lot of fun.”

This will be the first relay for Desert Vista junior Emily St. Antoine, but she’s having so much fun that she already knows she’ll do it again next year.

St. Antoine has participated in a few other walks to benefit cancer research because people in her family have been touched by the disease. Other events just involve a lot of walking, but there’s more to the Relay for Life, she said.

“This one, you camp out with your friends, you walk around a track, there’s a band there, there are a lot of fun things that you can do while you’re raising money,” St. Antoine said.

Relay organizers have signed up nearly 900 people, who collectively have raised just under $37,000. But Mark Honaker expects participation to rise – 3,000 people usually participate, he said. Last year, the relay raised $160,000, much of it at the event or through continuing efforts afterward.

Team captains have two more chances to attend orientation meetings before the event. Those meetings are at 7 p.m. April 8 and 15 in room A174, better known as the Black Box, at Desert Vista High School, 16440 S. 32nd St. The relay itself runs from 1 p.m. April 17 to 7 a.m. April 18 at Mountain Pointe High School, 4201 E. Knox Road.

Teams can register online or find out more at http://relayforlife.org/ahwatukeefoothillsaz. The minimum to participate is $10 per person, and teams must raise at least $100 to be eligible to stay the entire night of the event.

For more information, contact Honaker at (602) 695-2506 or onegoodturn@hotmail.com.

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