Auburn Students Walk for American Cancer Society

July 01, 2004 | Amber Serns

Auburn Adventist Academy (AAA) students and staff gathered at nearby Kent Meridian High School on May 21 to celebrate life and actively support research to enhance it at the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. Joining community members and cancer survivors, the students donned Auburn gear and slapped on stickers with names of those they knew who had fought or were fighting cancer. Kelly Kraus, mother and long-time supporter of Auburn Adventist Academy, was named on many stickers.

Current cancer patients and survivors led the first lap. Kraus and Kay Sanborn, Auburn girls' head dean, were among them. Auburn students and staff stood by the track cheering and yelling their support before they joined in. “It was really inspiring," said Melissa Howell, assistant dean, who co-coordinated the event with Sanborn.

All interested students were allowed to attend this 20-hour relay. The entire AAA team was there for the opening ceremony Friday evening. At least one member continued walking throughout the event. Those staying through the night dozed in tents when they were not walking. Others such as Arthur Young, who finished with a grand total of 25 miles, continued walking the entire night. Lhamo Ma, Jessie Sayer, Janelle Churchill, Kimmy Christensen, Andrea Harris and Jason Luke were among some of the other more ambitious walkers on Auburn’s team. Many students recruited sponsors to support their efforts, either by giving a certain amount per lap or by contributing a flat donation.

Participants really took the opportunity to heart and gave 100 percent to the endeavor. Luke commented that although the walking was challenging, it was a lot of fun. "I felt like I was making a difference," he said. Howell noted the distinct feeling of camaraderie and sense of purpose the participants seemed to possess.

The students also created luminarias to surround the track. These decorated brown paper sacks with candles burning inside truly gave the area a peaceful appearance.

Two students donated their hair to Locks of Love, an organization that creates wigs for chemotherapy patients. Ashley Westlake, an Auburn sophomore, donated 10 inches of her hair. “I had been trying to grow it out. But it’s for a good cause, and it’s summer anyway,” she added, touching her chin-length hair in a gesture of consolation.

As Sanborn mentioned when presenting the idea to the staff, “We are excited to give our students a chance to be part of an event that teaches that a few people working together really and truly can make a difference in the world.” What a blessing to once again be reminded what serving God is all about.