By Nancy Gutierrez

As FFA members, high school students have the opportunity to compete in a variety of contests, like livestock judging or speaking events, but rarely are there athletic competitions.

Last Saturday Oct. 2, Lindsay High School FFA members and their ag teachers competed in a race at Granite Hills High School. They weren't hoping to win a trophy or even get the fastest time. They were involved in a race for the cure as part of the American Cancer Society's (ACS) Relay for Life fund-raiser.

Relay for Life is an overnight event designed to celebrate survivorship and raise money for research and programs for the American Cancer Society. During the event, teams of people gather at schools, fairgrounds, or parks and take turns walking or running laps. Each team tries to keep at least one team member on the track at all times.

Charles Martinez, Andrew Mendoza, Carolina Serna, Raquel Serna, Jose Alvarado, Salvador Gutierrez, Andrea Loughton and Spenser Smart along with ag teachers Pam Brem and Emmett Schultz spent 24 hours on the track at Granite Hills along with several hundred other volunteers in an effort to raise money for cancer research.

The group decided to participate in the event after Brem suggested it as a community service project. Some of the students had already participated in a Relay for Life and the group agreed it was a good idea.

"It shows support for those who have cancer and helps us remember those who have died," Mendoza said.

Martinez is related to a cancer survivor and Brem said many of the agriculture students at LHS have been directly or indirectly affected by cancer.

In order to participate each team member had to raise a minimum of $100. No formal training is necessary to compete, though Smart said he made sure to get a good night's sleep and eat a healthy breakfast before the event.

On the day of the race the Lindsay FFA team traded off running and walking the track They started at 9 a.m. on Oct. 2 and finished at 9 a.m. on Oct. 3. ACS provided massage therapists, some snacks and a variety of games for team members to busy themselves with when they weren't running. A local band played music Saturday afternoon and radio personalities from Z104.9 cheered on runners as they circled the track.

The Lindsay students raised approximately $1,200 for the cancer society and learned the value of teamwork and community service.

Over the last 19 years, Relay for Life has spread to 4,200 communities in the United States and eight foreign countries. The first relay began in May 1985 when, Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon and avid runner, took the first step of his 24-hour walk/run around a track in Tacoma, Wash. He clocked 83 miles, raising $27,000 to support the American Cancer Society. The following year, 220 supporters on 19 teams joined Dr. Klatt in this overnight event, and the American Cancer Society Relay for Life was born. For more information call 1-800-ACS-2345.

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