By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
The 12th annual Vandegrift Relay for Life raised over $30,000 this year with more than 900 registrants participating. Community members, business owners, students and VHS staff celebrated cancer survivors on April 8 at VHS while also remembering those who have been lost to cancer.
“This event is about unifying the Viper community with hope for a cancer free future,” said Kirsten Mulligan, VHS Relay coordinator and English department chair.
The event supports the American Cancer Society and over the past dozen years, Vandegrift has donated approximately $350,000. The funds provide prevention, treatment, and care for those facing cancer.
Mulligan always asks participants: “Why do you Relay?”. She says she always does so she can work with amazing students for such a great cause. But this year the cause hit very close to home.
“This year, I Relayed to honor my husband, Eric who passed on September 26, 2021,” she said. Eric, 55, had fought a difficult battle with cancer.
Their son Brian, who graduated VHS in 2015, was determined to be at Relay this year. He grilled over 450 hamburgers and hot dogs that were donated by VHS Key Club on the grill built by the VHS ag department.
“It was a great experience for Brian as he was involved in organizing Relay all his high school years…it was great for him to be back and honor his father by volunteering as a community member,” Mulligan said.
Speakers at the survivor ceremony at Monroe Stadium included cancer survivor and VHS senior, Sarah Pacheco who inspired everyone to embrace life. Mike Howard, cancer survivor and VHS director of bands, gave a message of hope and joy.
The luminaria ceremony speakers included VHS senior Forrest Broe honoring his late older brother Pierce Broe and VHS students Leya Bustami and Brenna Healy remembering Brenna’s brother, Dunnovan Healy.
There were 39 teams total at this year’s event at Monroe Stadium. The top fundraising teams included VHS PALS/Brave, Team Howard (VHS band), and VHS Soccer. Top fundraisers were Emma Prilop, Brad Wisdom and Rachel Green.
Participants enjoyed free food, live student bands, tug of war, frisbee, spike ball, chess, jenga, silent disco, and more. This was the first year there was a live VHS student DJ – VHS senior Bella Sanchez.
The VHS event was virtual the past two years and the two years prior to that, there were rain storms that affected things.
“So we were super excited to have beautiful weather and be in-person with so many of our community members joining us,” Mulligan said.