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MCHS National Honor Society hosts Mini Relay for Life

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014 10:28 p.m. CDT
(Jean Tyrell for Shaw Media)
Minooka Community High School teacher Sam Pavelka (left) and Minooka student Alex Czuczuk, both cancer survivors, walk the first lap Sunday along with caregivers and other survivors at the Mini Relay for Life at the high school. Pavelka pushes his daughter, Madelyn.

MINOOKA – Cancer takes all shapes and impacts almost everyone in some way. Minooka students and community members acknowledged that Sunday.

For the second year in a row, the Minooka Community High School National Honor Society organized the American Cancer Society’s Mini Relay for Life of Grundy County at the high school. This year’s goal is to beat last year’s $12,000 and raise $15,000.

Before the event began, $7,000 already had been raised, NHS moderator Donna Engel said.

“It amazes me – the energy you have,” spokeswoman Carrie Robinette of the American Cancer Society told the group of a 100-plus assembled students and community members at the kickoff.

She said the funds raised will be used locally at places such as JOHA in Joliet and Morris Hospital, which serve community members undergoing cancer treatment. Funds also will be used to support efforts for research, as well as give housing assistance to families who have to travel for treatments.

The 11-hour event started with a survivors’ and caregivers’ lap. Before the event, the NHS students decorated seven hallways and areas with different colors signifying different types of cancer. The students also planned a whole day of themed laps, like Olympics and a tiara walk. There also was a children’s walk in the gymnasium, which emphasized fun and learning facts about cancer, which were printed on a “yellow brick road.”

MCHS recognized two of its own, teacher Sam Pavelka and junior student Alex Czuczuk, who are both fighting sarcoma. Both talked about the encouraging results that they have had recently with their medical conditions. The two walked the first lap, along with other cancer survivors and supporters, with Pavelka pushing his daughter’s stroller.

High school students lined the walk route, which wove back and forth through the school. Cheers and clapping sounded as the survivors passed by.

When Pavelka saw the corridor sign that read “sarcoma,” he said to Alex, “There’s ours.”

The day culminated in a luminaria lighting followed by a “Star Wars”-themed lap in memory of Michael Assaf, a Minooka teacher who died a year ago from pancreatic cancer.

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