By Brandi Price, TSB Contributor
Eleven-year-old students Ally Tauber and Sydney Anderson are childhood friends and have weathered some serious storms that some Valley Creek Elementary School students thankfully have not had to deal with.
Ally and Sydney both have parents who have had cancer and the girls have turned sickness and tragedy into something healing and positive by raising money for the American Cancer Society at the annual Relay For Life of McKinney fund-raising event, which is held at the Ballfields at Craig Ranch. They are just two of approximately 100 fifth grade students at Valley Creek Elementary School who created hand-made cards in teacher Amanda Kelly’s art class for the cancer survivors and their caregivers who participated in the 2013 American Cancer Society Relay For Life of McKinney on April 26 and 27.
Ally has participated in the Relay For Life of McKinney for seven years and raises money to honor her late mother, Ann, who died from breast cancer when Ally was just 5 years old. “I feel like Relay For Life is important because all of the money goes towards cancer research. It’s also fun,” Ally said.
Sydney has also lived with cancer. Her mother and father also had cancer. Her mom, Meredith, works with students who have dyslexia for the McKinney Independent School District. She had breast cancer and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Cancer also plagued Sydney’s grandparents as they too had the disease. Both of Sydney’s parents are now cancer free and raising money for the American Cancer Society is something that Sydney feels is important to spend time and energy on as she knows full well how it affects peoples’ lives.
Both girls were among some of the fifth-grade students at Valley Creek who gave the cards to the cancer survivors when they exited the stage area at Relay. “I love being around people who have cancer because I like to make people who have cancer feel like they’re just as important as everyone else,” Sydney said. “Ally and I like raising money for the American Cancer Society because it’s a fun activity to do and we raise money all year so the American Cancer Society can find medicine to stop cancer.”
Their classmate Austin Miller also made cards for the cancer survivors and caregivers in his art class. He also participated in the 2013 Relay For Life of McKinney event on the Texas Oncology team, which was also one of many sponsors of this year’s Relay event — and is where Austin’s mother works.
“It was fun because I got to see all of the cancer survivors and their caregivers,” Austin said. “I didn’t think that there would be that many cancer survivors and it was fun to help,” he said. He said he also liked participating in the event as he remembers a former school mate who had cancer when he was in first grade at McKinney ISD schools.
Both Sydney and Ally have fought back sleepiness and stayed the full 12 hours of past Relay For Life events, from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. along with their parents to walk, celebrate life, honor and remember those who have lost their battle with cancer, and those currently undergoing treatment and who have lived through the disease.
One of Sydney’s favorite activities at Relay is the Survivor Lap, where cancer survivors walk the first lap of the over-night walk, she said. Ally also likes the Survivor Lap as she remembers her mother having so much pride when she battled the disease, she said. “I like the Survivor Lap because I like seeing all of the people who have survived cancer, and I’m just so proud to see them,” Ally said.
Sydney added that watching the more than 200 cancer survivors walk the Survivor Lap is unbelievable to see, and she is happy that they are still here.
“I love being around people who have cancer because I like to make people who have cancer feel like they’re just as important as everyone else,” said Sydney. “Ally and I like raising money for the American Cancer Society because it’s a fun activity to do and we raise money all year so the American Cancer Society can find medicine to stop cancer.”
Another Relay activity that both girls enjoy is the Luminaria event, where the ballfield lights are dimmed and lights are placed in bags that line the track which bear the names of people who have died from cancer. “I remember my mom has so much pain that she went through when she had stage-four cancer and she was really proud when she was fighting it,” Ally said. “It’s really cool to be able to honor the people who have passed away from cancer.
The girls have also sold jewelry throughout the year to raise money for the ACS and helped the McKinney Relay raise $408,000.
Fund-raising for the 2013 Relay For Life of McKinney will continue from now through Aug. 31. For more information about the Relay For Life of McKinney, please visit http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFLCY13PL?pg=entry&fr_id=…