The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

May 10, 2014

Two Ashtabula County schools raise more than $6,500 to fight cancer

By WARREN DILLAWAY - warren@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

— Students from two area school districts raised more than $6,500 to fight cancer and had fun at the same time.

The Pymatuning Valley Local School District sponsored a Mini-Relay that raised an estimated $5,000 for the Ashtabula County Relay for Life.

“This is our eighth year participating in Relay for Life and seventh year doing the relay,” said Andrea Wonderling who helps coordinate the event.

She said all segments of the school district are involved in the event and many people run or walk in honor of relatives who have battled cancer.

Wonderling said Mary Pontoni is a two-time breast cancer survivor and the students rally around staff that has fought cancer. “The kids really get behind that,” she said.

Wonderling said a non-stop 12-hour running relay began at 9 a.m. and classes from all different grades then participated in walking throughout the day during recess and lunch.

“This is huge for me,” said Pontoni. She said the first time she had breast cancer she had surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. The second time it was only surgery and a pill.

She said fundraising efforts, like the Mini Relay, pin-pointed her treatment needs and took chemotherapy and radiation off the table.

About 30 miles away Lakeside High School students were involved in a “Color Run” that raised more than $1,500 for the Peltonia Cancer Research Center.

Many of the students that participated had a special reason; in addition to the “fun” of getting blasted by colorful powder while running, said LHS Student Council Advisor Lisa Raffa who organized the event.

“My dad died of cancer. Everybody has a reason why they are on this run,” Raffa said.

The students looped the campus and were belted at two different areas. Clouds of colorful powder rose in the air as other students aggressively applied the powder.

“When we were going through that you couldn’t see,” said junior Carlie Watt.

“It was awesome. I loved it. I think that was the most fun I’ve had all year,” said Julie Dibble. She said it was especially personal because her aunt recently died of cancer, her mother had breast cancer and her grandmother is a four-time cancer survivor.

“It means a lot,” she said.