|Mini Relay honors lives lost to cancer, celebrates life|
|Friday, May 09, 2014 8:00 PM|
BY STEPHANIE GROVES
During the emotionally-charged opening ceremony, Franklin and Landeck Elementary School’s Principal Mark Fuerst took the podium and reflected on a very special lady, Pat Rode, who lost her battle with cancer this past April. As he spoke, the crowd fell silent knowing his words expressed what so many people were feeling about Rode.
“She was a very special lady who touched many, many lives during her 30-year career as a cook at Landeck Elementary School,” Fuerst said tearfully.
Blue helium-filled balloons were then released by students honoring Rode’s memory.
St. John’s Elementary Principal Nathan Stant spoke next and said as a student at Landeck, he had fond memories of the great meals Rode served.
Stant began a heartwarming description of his friend and colleague Chris Kemper, who died from cancer in December of 2013.
“He was a great friend, teacher and baseball coach,” Stant said emotionally. “He had a tremendous love for God, family and education believing that ‘with God all things are possible’.”
In honor of Kemper, multi-colored helium-filled balloons were released by students.
As Fuerst pumped up the somber crowd and began the introduction of cancer survivors, the gathering exploded into a celebration of cheers and applause recognizing each individual who beat the odds and survived the disease. After each survivor received their medal, students joined them on stage to release purple balloons into the air.
After the opening ceremony, everyone in attendance was invited to take the first “lap” together, which was a walk up and down Pierce Street between St. John’s and Franklin elementary schools.
During the walk, students and adults also began a rotation through the classrooms at the schools for healthful presentations learning how to live healthier lives and take precautionary measures to help prevent different types of health issues.
Professionals from the Delphos area spoke on a variety of topics, including oral cancer and prevention, fitness, drug awareness, hearing, paramedics, end of life, drug and health awareness, nutrition, tobacco and massage therapy.
Students paid to play games — which earned them prizes if they won — and participated in activities on both schools’ playgrounds including Plinko, miniature golf, face painting, ring toss, bean bag toss and toilet paper toss. Students shot hoops, had fun bouncing around in an inflatable jumping pit and played other fitness games.
Closing ceremonies were held at St. John’s in the Robert A. Arnzen Gymnasium.
Proceeds from all games and donations will be given to the American Cancer Society for patient needs and to fund further cancer research.