Student-Led Relay For Life Helps Battle Cancer
Shorecrest seniors developed and ran the annual Relay For Life, which topped its fundraising goal. It is rare for the annual fundraiser to be managed exclusively by students.
On Friday morning at Shorecrest Preparatory School, students assembled on Haskell Field for the opening of the annual Relay For Life, a fundraiser that is becoming an annual tradition at the St. Petersburg campus.
Formed mostly by Shorecrest seniors, the 2012 Relay For Life committee completed the task with grace and professionalism.
American Cancer Society representative Nina Ionata was impressed by the group of teens. She said that during the planning stages, she would sometimes forget that she was dealing with “kids.”
Ionata also noted that there are only a few other Relay For Life events around the country that are student led.
With an introductory lap that was completed by a 5-year-old student who is a leukemia survivor, the event was off to a vibrant start. Later in the day, students set up tents for the all-nighter as well as handmade decorations and memorials.
On Friday evening, the official public kickoff for Shorecrest’s Relay For Life put the event into motion.
“The next 12 hours will symoblize a day in the life of cancer, a disease that never sleeps,” said Steven Tellios, a Shorecrest senior who is committee chair.
For Tellios, the Relay For Life at Shorecrest possesses a special meaning. His mother, Stephanie Tellios, is a nine-year survivor of leukemia. Steven was in third grade when his mom was diagnosed.
“I’m very fortunate,” said Stephanie Tellios. “It’s really cool to watch my kids go to that next level and just do something more for the community.”
Stephanie Tellios' 15-year-old daughter, Demi, served as the luminaria ceremony chair for the event.
Steven Tellios has had a direct hand in the event since its inception seven years ago. Along with a core group of senior friends, two of whom have lost parents to cancer, Tellios has participated every year.
The school had set their fundraising goal at a hefty $60,000. By Friday morning’s ceremony, the goal was exceeded. The total not only helps the charity but also was tangible proof of the leadership and discipline of the student organizers.
The event and accomplishments held a very special meaning for survivors and their family members.
“I’ve been involved with the relay for seven years,” explained Steven. “This year, I’ve learned things about the time that my mom was going through cancer and that’s what’s motivated me to do this.”