The City of Downey’s tenth annual Relay For Life fundraiser kicked off Thurs., Mar. 7 with students and staff members on campus uniting under the banner Team Viking Spirit. In hopes of raising funds for cancer research, several sports teams and clubs gave a helping hand by assembling their own fundraisers for the cause.
The fundraiser initiated with the Relay For Life assembly that included stories about those struggling with cancer, a dual performance by the dance team, and a presentation by Mr. Manzanares. The main focus of the gathering took place when Downey alumni, Mario Galvan, gave a speech about his survival through the disease after battling with it for over a year.
“I too was like you,” Galvan stated. “I thought cancer would never reach me.”
The presentation sent the assembly attendees into silence as students and faculty realized how close the disease was to the Downey community. The assembly concluded with a call to action by Mr. Manzanares who reminded students how much Downey has contributed to the cause in the past.
The main organizer of the fundraiser, Mr. Manzanares, began the March Madness campaign throughout the classrooms on campus. March Madness is the competition in which teachers strive to raise the most money in their classrooms. The competition takes on various forms, with some teachers making it a battle between their periods or even selling food in order to beat the rest of their colleagues. This year, Ms. Kasner is selling muffins and some teachers, such as Ms. Cubas, are awarding a block party to their period with the most funds.
In addition to the help by teachers, students are also taking matters into their own hands. ASB has taken the responsibility of raising awareness for the event. Members of the student body went around classes with purple cups asking for daily donations every day. Junior ASB member, Joey Flores, confessed he enjoyed the hard work of the fundraiser.
“It’s a lot of work collecting money from the classes, but it’s a lot of fun too,” Flores said. “The school earns respect from the organization and it helps people realize how important giving really is.”
Other clubs also helped by hosting their own fundraisers. The Advanced Photo class set up a Polaroid photo booth during lunch where they shot pictures with vintage polaroids for two dollars a-piece. The library lent a helping hand as well by selling Relay For Life t-shirts for 10 dollars and wristbands for one dollar.
Some clubs, such as the dance team, are hosting competitions like the annual dodge ball tournament for Relay For Life. The tournament award will be split 50/50 where 50 percent of the entrance fees will be given to the winner and the other 50 percent will be donated to the American Cancer Society.
One of the clubs that played a major role in the fundraiser this year was the Drama Production class. Their students created buttons and sold them for a dollar. They also put together a drama showcase involving a series of short skits and plays in an attempt to raise money through entertainment. One of the actors, senior Alejandro Flores, performed in the skits as the character Vigneshwar Padwar.
“We put on a good show for the audience,” Flores said. “I really liked the audience’s reaction to the skit.”
The fundraising effort has proved to be superior this year, with more classes and clubs participating. Although the goal for Mr. Manzanares for this year is $20,000, his estimates seem to show funds have already surpassed that. Although the pecuniary aspect of Relay For Life has already been met, Mr. Manzanares agrees the main goal of the event was to raise something else.
“The goal here is really to spread awareness,” Manzanares stated. “It really comes down to how much each teacher or each student values the cause.”
Mr. Manzanares, whose father was personally affected by the disease, is hoping to spread the word about how students can help.
“I want students to feel how great it is to help someone else,” Manzanares stated.
Relay For Life is a national organization that aims to raise money for cancer research. Every year, communities organize relay events where people walk or run a certain amount of miles to raise money for the cause.
The Relay For Life event for this year will take place Sat., May 31 at the Downey Adult School on the corner of Imperial and Woodruff Ave. Students and faculty have shown an even greater will to help others this year with dozens vowing to participate in the event. Regardless of their club or sport affiliation, students at Downey have once again found a way to unite over a single cause.