Happy Valley Middle students raise money for cancer research

Cancer affects millions of people every year, but it is not just adults who suffer from its effects, first-hand or otherwise. Carter County students spent their Friday morning recognizing and honoring this reality.

A day ahead of Carter County’s involvement in the Relay for Life, students at Happy Valley Middle School decided to honor one of their own with a special Walk-a-Thon, supporting their fellow student’s struggles with their own fundraiser.

Nan Carver, chairman of the Relay for Life in the region, said the middle school reached out to them about setting up their own fundraiser ahead of the Saturday walk.

“The school reached out to us, wanted to get involved,” Carver said.

Each grade took 30 to 45 minutes in the gym to walk laps both inside the gym and around the parking lot just outside, encouraged by cheerleaders and teachers alike.

“It is overwhelming,” she said about the turnout. “The children want to be so involved.”

Part of this motivation to participate was personal for the students, she said. Happy Valley Middle’s Walk-a-Thon was in honor of fifth-grader Haley Campbell.

The event did not just include walking in circles, however. Students also got to play jump-rope and hula-hoops, play one hole of mini-golf and shoot three-pointers with a basketball. A central table in the gym also had dozens of posters, and each student got to wear a sticker with Relay for Life on it to let others know what they did that day.

“It is heartwarming to know they can give,” Carver said. “They are seeing this first-hand.”

She said this was her first year serving as chairperson of the Relay. She said her passion for the program comes from her husband, Danny, a bladder and prostate cancer survivor.

The Relay for Life is meant to raise money towards research and treatment.

“I want a world without cancer,” she said. “Today, there is a 70 percent survival rate. In 1963, it was 20 percent.”

The school set a fundraising goal of $500 in honor of Campbell. In just the first session of the walk, they raised $696.

Facotry Connection sales associate Nancy Brown said several businesses also contributed to the event, either financially or by donating materials or decorations, including J’s Corner, Hardee’s, Chick-fil-A, Factory Connection, and Dairy Queen.

“They are going to make a difference,” Carver said. “This will make them aware of what they can do to change the world.”

She said Relay for Life works to raise money for cancer research year-round. For more information, go to their Facebook page or contact Carver at 423-268-3555 or by email at nan.carver9@gmail.com.

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