Schools get into Relay

Published 6:07 pm Saturday, May 9, 2015

Owen Firnstahl rolls his scooter with his red ruby slippers while participating in a relay race at the kickoff for Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s Relay For Life efforts.

Owen Firnstahl rolls his scooter with his red ruby slippers while participating in a relay race at the kickoff for Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s Relay For Life efforts.

Schools across Suffolk have been getting into the Relay For Life spirit this spring, and students and teachers alike are pumped up for the event this week.

“Everybody knows somebody who has cancer,” said Mary Keiser, a teacher assistant at Creekside Elementary School and team captain for the school’s Relay team. “It really breaks my heart a lot, so I just wanted to do something.”

Keiser started Team Creekside last year “just because of all the people that have been affected by it in our school,” she said. One retired teacher died of cancer in December, and another retired teacher is currently battling it.

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Creekside has held several fundraisers, including a basketball game and a “Tree of Hope” in a display case inside the school, where students could pay to display purple ribbons.

“We did a lot of staff fundraisers,” Keiser said, mostly special lunches.

The school already has topped $6,000, while it raised only $4,700 last year.

“I’m excited about that,” Keiser said, adding the team will be selling pizza at Relay to raise even more money.

Kelly Outlaw, a physical education and health teacher at John Yeates Middle School, is team captain for the Relay team at her school. This is the third year for the school participating.

“The first year that we did it, one of the guidance counselors here who has been here for as long as I can remember, she was diagnosed with breast cancer,” Outlaw said. “Unfortunately, not long after the walk that year, she passed away.”

The school has raised money through T-shirt sales as well as through hat days, where students can pay for the privilege of wearing hats inside the building.

Some wear regular ball caps, but others do crazy hats, Outlaw said. One student on Friday was even wearing a motorcycle helmet.

Outlaw said she’s motivated to lead the team, because she has had a lot of family members, including her sister, who have been diagnosed.

Several local businesses are sponsoring the team, she said.

“Every company that we contacted was more than willing to help support our cause,” she said. “We were really touched by how involved they’ve been.”

At Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, teachers and students are really getting into this year’s theme, “There’s No Place Like Hope.”

Candy Nash, assistant head of the Upper School, is coordinating all nine of the student and teacher teams and is on one of the teacher teams.

For the school’s Relay kickoff, teams encountered an obstacle course and relay race. After being spun in a chair to simulate a tornado, they had to walk down a “yellow brick road” made of duct tape and surrounded by bowling pins, and if they knocked down a pin they had to go back. The next person put a scarecrow’s hat on and hopped in a burlap sack to the next person, who tossed heart-shaped cornhole bags into aluminum-foil-wrapped cornhole boards. The next person had to grab poppies from the rock-climbing wall and tag the lion, who put on a mane-like boa and showed their courage by swinging over a simulated river.

The game ended when the final relay team member put on red sparkly heels, rolled themselves on a scooter with their high-heeled shoes to the finish line, then clicked their heels together and said, “There’s no place like hope.”

“The kids really loved it when the teacher team did it,” Nash said.

Other creative fundraisers and activities have included a trivia contest, T-shirt sales, an Easter egg hunt and soccer day for younger students, a kindergarten art show and more.

“Every student, every person knows someone that was affected by this disease,” Nash said. “It doesn’t take much to get the kids involved.”

The Relay will take place at Bennett’s Creek Park, 3000 Bennetts Creek Park Road, from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. May 16-17. Visit for more information.