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Area youth heavily involved with Relay for Life fund-raiser

By Staff
RELAY FOR LIFE Carver Middle School teacher Irene Wade, left, serves pizza to Dara Culpepper, Britnie Burton and the rest of her homeroom class Friday for being the top money raisers in the school's Relay for Life campaign. The class raised $700 to benefit the American Cancer Society. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
May 26, 2002
Thomas Walters graduated from Clarkdale High School on Tuesday. The following day he and his classmates attended his mother's funeral.
Diane Walters, 46, lost her battle with cancer on Saturday, May 18. Earlier this year, in her honor, the Clarkdale senior class formed a Relay for Life team called "Diane's Dawgs," to benefit the American Cancer Society.
He said he kept his mother posted on the team's efforts while she was in the hospital.
Phyllis Scott and Courtney Stockman are co-captains of the team.
The students held bake sales, sold refreshments, sponsored teacher appreciation contests and faculty-versus-students competitions to raise about $4,000 for Relay for Life, all at school.
Stockman said she plans to keep the team active for years to come, even though she is moving to Louisiana this summer to attend college.
Thomas wants the team to continue as well. He has a baseball scholarship to attend John Woods Community College in Quincy, Ill., but he said he plans to try out for Meridian Community College's baseball team before making the move.
A driving force
That is how Relay for Life teams are born. It is life, fighting for life and preserving the spirit of someone who is loved.
Many Relay for Life teams are supported by youth. Clarkdale Attendance Center has three teams this year. There are also teams at Carver Middle School, Kate Griffin Junior High, Northeast Lauderdale Elementary and Parkview Elementary.
This is the second year Carver's Relay for Life team has been active. It began as a tribute to Guster Sudbury, a cancer survivor and former nurse at Carver and Kate Griffin schools.
Wade's homeroom earned $700 and held a pizza party Friday afternoon.
Brenda Compton, chairperson of Relay for Life's Team Recruitment Committee, said young people are a driving force in the fund-raising campaign. They are not only active through school teams, but within family- and church-sponsored groups.
She said this year appears to have produced more teams than ever before.
Last year Lauderdale County's Relay for Life raised $400,000. It was the fourth year in a row that the local campaign was recognized on the national level for its efforts. Lauderdale County Relay for Life was ranked first in the nation in 2001 for per-capita giving in its population category of 75,000-100,000.
Pennies to greenbacks (and hair)
Camie Heard, one of five cancer survivors who serve as honorary chairmen of this year's Relay for Life campaign, is a teacher at Clarkdale Attendance Center, where there is also a team named for her, "Camie's Crusaders." The third team at the school is "Miska's Militia," named in honor of Diane Miska, who is also a Clarkdale teacher and cancer survivor.
Though "Camie's Crusaders" was formed by Heard's co-workers, friends and family, she said it is the children at her school who have earned the $5,800 her team has raised this year.
Because "Camie's Crusaders" raised more than $3,000, Jan Miller, Clarkdale Attendance Center principal, Charles King, Clarkdale High School principal and Joni Alexander, a Clarkdale Elementary teacher's assistant, had their hair dyed green on Wednesday as part of an agreement between the school's staff and students.