Mt. Vernon Schools include character and good citizenship in the life lessons learned at school. Giving back to the community is not just verbally taught but is learned by example. Ashley Schenck, Event Lead for the Mt. Vernon Relay for Life and fifth grade teacher at McCordsville Elementary School, estimated that approximately 75% of the recent Relay for Life participants were Mt. Vernon staff, students, alumni or Mt. Vernon families.
Challenging weather on May 16th didn’t sway the 21 Relay for Life teams and over 300 people as they raised $32,700 for the American Cancer Society. The event was held at Mt. Vernon Middle School and honored survivors, those who lost their lives to cancer, people currently battling cancer, caregivers and everyone that cancer affects. Schenck said funds are still coming in to date at www.relayforlife.org/mountvernonin.
Mt. Vernon students, families, staff and alumni stuck strong through the challenging wet weather as someone from each team walked at all times to cover the 24-hour span. One Mt. Vernon student, Elizabeth May, chose to walk all 24 hours and succeeded without injury.
There were three new Mt. Vernon teams this year; one was made up of some former/current school board members and alumni. The other two new teams were Mt. Vernon families who had just lost a loved one due to cancer. There were 18 teams that formed within the last four years.
Schenck started her “Shut it Down” team at the Relay for Life of Lawrence approximately 10 years ago, but due to size limitations, she and another team were asked to start a Relay in the Mt. Vernon area. Originally it was called Relay for Life of Geist, then McCordsville/Fortville, and is now Relay for Life of Mt. Vernon.
The Relay for Life of Mt. Vernon has hit goals and won awards at the “Fall Summit” that American Cancer Society hosts. They are the rising star of Relay’s in Indiana and Schenck says they are frequently complimented on how well their leadership team works together.
The day was full of activities to keep everyone involved with the day. Opening Ceremonies began at 10am on Saturday, May 16th followed by a car show that had over 20 cars. A kids carnival, DJ, tug of war, silent auction, the always touching Luminaria Ceremony, and a church service were a few of the festivities the day offered.
Food vendors were available for participants to enjoy. A group of seniors came out to walk; some even played football or baseball in the center of the track. The Fortville Fire Department walked the Luminaria Ceremony lap with full gear.
Schenck, who pours hours into managing the event, states “I feel like cancer is everywhere and I’m sick and tired of hearing about it. Relay is my way of dealing with that ‘sick and tired’ feeling, and I feel like I’m helping end it. I know each year we are getting closer to a cure and I sure hope it’s a word my own kids never have to hear.”
Character speaks volumes, and Marauder pride was evident at the busy Relay for Life event. Attendees felt a sense of support, community pride, and that they were making a difference in people’s lives.