- Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 July 2013 13:09
- Published on Wednesday, 10 July 2013 00:09
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It was cancer education, and community service all rolled into an army of one. Recently, Sealston Elementary School health, and physical education teacher, Lori Ann Libby decided to take on the fight against cancer in her classroom. King George High School graduate, and former Sealston student Wesley Berry’s ongoing struggle with the dreaded disease fueled Libby’s efforts. Under the umbrella of the nationwide program, Recess Relay, Libby and her students raised $518 dollars in six days by selling paper chain links.
“I wanted to do the project back in October, during the same time as the Relay for Life event, but it conflicted with the Sealston Running Club preparing for the annual Great Train Race,” Libby said. “I decided to incorporate the project with our school’s annual Field Day. I decided to sell old-fashioned paper chain links, similar took the links sold during homecoming week. After selling the links, and linking them together, whoever had the longest link would be declared the winner.”
Libby gave each grade level a different color to represent a different type of cancer. They were sold at lunch for six days, at 10 cents apiece or three for a quarter. Prior to presenting Berry the check, Sealston kids, grades one through six, performed a symbolic gesture of good faith by walking for 30-minutes along a white line decorated with luminary bags in the school’s gymnasium. “It was really cool to see, as everybody wrote something special for Wesley,” Libby said. “Many kids drew a pink heart or whatever color their ribbon was.”
Winners were chosen from grades Kindergarten one & two, and first grade, while grades three through six received 30 extra minutes of recess.
Prior to the Field Day, and the check presentation, Libby was faced with a slight dilemma. With the realization that her current total was $416 dollars, her class scrambled to raise another $102 dollar on the final day fundraising.
As fate would have it, the chain links never made it to their display destination, because the school’s janitors disposed of them after misinterpreting the links as trash on the gym floor. Libby’s physical education classes has sold over five thousand chains.
“A lot of kids knew Wesley from playing ball or going to church,” Libby said. “Our physical education classes often talked about cancer, by asking if their peers knew anyone with it or if they really understood the seriousness of the disease.”
Libby also noted that 80 percent of the kids knew someone with cancer, but during her teen years, people never talked about the issue.
After a successful first year, Libby is determined to see “Next year we’re going to incorporate Relay Recess across the school’s curriculum, where classes such as art, and music will have an opportunity to show their support. “Instead of doing the project on Field Day, I will focus on doing it on Valentine’s Day.”