Like many of her teachers and fellow students at Crossroads Public School, 13-year-old Alanna Kroeker knows what it’s like to have her family touched by cancer.
“My uncle had blood cancer and it was really hard, but thankfully he recovered,” she told The Lake Report.
Kroeker was one of many students on the playground last Friday after lunch taking part in the school’s 12th annual Rankin Cancer Run.
She said it was “really awesome” to be out raising money for cancer research among her fellow Coyotes.
Tracey Kent, one of the organizers of the cancer run, estimated the school had raised nearly $3,000 as of Friday afternoon.
The charity event, run by Niagara-based company Rankin Construction, is entirely volunteer-run.
All the revenue goes into funding cancer care programs at hospitals and other health care centres across the Niagara region.
“What’s different about the Rankin run is all the money stays in Niagara,” said Kent.
“I’ve seen the money go into action to help friends and family,” she said. “It’s a very worthy event.”
Kent says the school raised $15,000 last year.
“And our principal shave her head,” she added.
According to Rankin’s website, Crossroads Public School was the top fundraising school in Niagara last year.
French teacher and cancer survivor Michele Zoccoli says the students of the Crossroads’ Caring Coyotes Club took a leadership role in organizing the run.
Zoccoli created the club, known fondly as “the 3C club,” inspired by her positive experiences as part of different clubs while she was in school.
“I think what the value is that they’re taking away is that they see themselves as leaders,” Zoccoli said.
Members of the club could be seen painting faces, handing out chalk and running the music booth.
In addition to the day’s activities, Rankin Construction supplied every student with a white t-shirt for this year’s run, which students marked up with signatures from teachers and friends alike.
By the end of the run, many students were wearing shirts with little space left for new names.
While lots of students spent the afternoon running laps around the playground, just as many could be found visiting the face painting tables.
Other students chose to draw on the tarmac with their friends, and a few more were playing games with a multicoloured playground parachute on the soccer field.
Meanwhile, practicing DJs were taking song requests from their peers and blaring them across the playground from box speakers.
“Seeing what you can do for others is what makes this world better,” Zoccoli said while her students milled about to raise money for cancer.