NSA fired up for Relay

Published 9:00 pm Saturday, April 30, 2011

NSA Relay: From left, NSA students Brennan Pieroni, Patricia Franklin and Ray Ramirez, Dean of Faculty Candy Nash, and students Anna Cait Wade and Alexa Scott are just a handful of the many NSA participants in this year’s Relay for Life.

Editor’s note: This is another in a series of stories leading up to the Suffolk Rockin’ Relay for Life, to be held May 13-14.

Just like every other participant in Relay for Life, the students at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy all have their individual reasons for participating.

For Anna Cait Wade, it was her best friend’s mother who died from the disease.

Email newsletter signup

For Brennan Pieroni, it was his mother’s best friend.

It hits even closer to home for Patricia Franklin. Her mother has battled the disease five times, and her grandfather now is fighting it.

The list goes on. That’s why these dedicated teens, and plenty more students of all ages from the school, have given up numerous hours of their free time in the past few weeks to raise funds for Relay for Life, an American Cancer Society fundraiser set for this month.

“It’s not just one person or one class,” said Pieroni. “We come together. Anybody can get involved.”

The school’s involvement in the Relay hasn’t waned this year, even though the event was moved from its football field to another location to provide more space. In fact, it’s only gotten stronger, the students say.

“People are giving up their time off to help,” said Ray Ramirez, another student. “People who normally wouldn’t be together, we get together for this.”

The students have been conducting a multitude of creative fundraisers, from raising butterflies and performing yard work and hosting a fashion show to holding a “play-a-thon” and “French-a-thon.”

The school’s band has held the play-a-thons at local malls. And the French classes planned an entire Saturday full of speaking French, watching French movies and — you guessed it — cooking and eating French crepes.

They’ve also held more traditional fundraisers like putting canisters in local businesses for people to fill with coins.

Patricia Franklin said she was disappointed when she picked up a canister from a business and it didn’t feel very heavy. But then she opened it and got excited.

“The entire thing was filled with dollars,” she said.

“When you count the money, it’s like opening presents on Christmas,” added Alexa Scott.

Alexa is involved with one of the most unique teams formed at the school — “The Fly Kids.”

Through the leadership of NSA teacher Richard Stewart, a butterfly raiser who’s also an aviation enthusiast, the students are selling three different varieties of butterflies that Stewart and the team will then raise and release in honor of or in memory of a loved one. Patrons receive a certificate with a photo of the butterfly. People also can purchase construction-paper butterflies that will hang in the team’s tent the night of Relay.

“Whatever your interest is, we get people fired up for the cause,” said Anna Cait Wade.

The students have done all the fundraising in the midst of their studies and other extra-curricular activities. They’re also finding that raising funds for Relay helps them get to know their community better.

“We really do have to go out into the community,” Wade said.

You can also help fight cancer by getting involved in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, to be held May 13-14 at Bennett’s Creek Park. For more information, visit www.suffolkrockinrelay.org.