7th annual VHS Relay For Life raises money to fight cancer

Luminarias ran the full length of the VHS football field in memory of those lost and to encourage those still fighting.

Band students formed Team Howard to raise money on behalf of the VHS band director, Mike Howard, a cancer survivor. Back row, from left: Aleksandra Krychniak, Kayla Downing, Cameron Moerbe, Elyse Geurra, Isa Cinclair. Front row Madi Howard and Coral Spicer.

Four Points News

Vandegrift hosted its 7th Relay For Life April 7 with over 750 participants raising $33,000 for the American Cancer Society. Over the last seven years combined, the Viper community has raised over $200,000 at Relay in the fight against cancer.

For the first time in three years, the event was held outdoors under clear skies. Students, teachers and survivors walked the track in groups, while in the center field others threw frisbees and footballs, rolled on giant inflatable balls, or listed to music from the Bethany Becker Band.

At 9 p.m., as is tradition, the lights were turned off and the luminaria ceremony began. Students whose lives had been affected by cancer spoke, then invited attendees to light their luminarias.

From left, Bailey Stone, Katelyn Morse and Claire Duffield from Team Pals.

Don’t let it topple! These three took some time off from walking to play a little Jenga. From left, Elena Wilson, Brad Borman and Coleman Gamble.

From left, Olivia Tavash, student, Drew Nelson, Sophia Arant, Lexie Papadakis and Emma Hilton from Team Breast Friends Forever made the most of the gorgeous weather.

Carson Broe was one such student to speak. Broe lost his brother Pierce to cancer in 2014.

“He loved life. He was just such a funny guy,” said Broe, describing the 12-year-old. “I’m not going to make him out to be an angel, but he was a great brother.” The Broe family lives in River Place and recently hosted their own Pierce Your Heart St. Baldrick’s fundraiser, to raise money for pediatric cancer research.

Andrea Thomas attended the event as a cancer survivor. “I had breast cancer. It’ll be 10 years ago April 17th. Full remission.” She continues to attend Relay not just because cancer affected her life but also because, “We all know someone whose life has been affected, and we know survivors. We also know people who’ve lost their lives.”

Thomas also spoke of the hope the event inspires, each luminaria lit to remember but also to light the way forward. “The Relay is important because it gives us the chance to celebrate and remember but also to be about the hope that comes with being in a fight. And there will be a day when we can cure cancer.”

From left, Ankith Sripathi, Christian Keys and Umair Hasan from Team Carrom Honor Society. Carrom is board game from India and members of the team meet weekly to play.

Priya, Jason and Andrea Thomas attended and staffed the survivors tent. Andrea has been a grateful breast cancer free for ten years.