Students Walk, Toss and Hula Hoop for Life

Madison Snedeker’s Aunt Holly died from cancer last year.  That was one reason the East Rockford Middle School student was outside on a cold, drizzly day, spinning a hula hoop around her hips.

“She really inspired me,” said Madison, a seventh-grader, who along with nearly 200 other ERMS students, recently raised $5,516 for the American Cancer Society. Added her fellow hula hooper Grace Ullery, “It’s common to have cancer, but we want to get rid of it.”

Students gathered on the track and football field behind their school to toss bean bags, throw Frisbees and circle the track for two hours to help the cause. The event was a warm-up to the annual Rockford Relay for Life, a 24-hour walk-a-thon held mid-May at North Rockford Middle School. Forty ERMS walkers raised about $6,000 for the Relay for Life.Jacob Umlor tosses a Frisbee into a target as part of his fund raising

Now in its fifth year, the ERMS field day gives more students a chance to participate in the fundraising effort. Some cannot take part in the Relay for Life because of sports and other weekend commitments, said organizer Debbie Pomarius, an ERMS English teacher.

“This is a good way to get your kids involved in a smaller time frame,” Pomarius said.

Many students were motivated by schoolmate Maddie Tomasko, an eighth-grader undergoing chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant for leukemia. They bought “Team Maddie” T-shirts and signed a poster for her.

Seventh-grader Jacob Umlor, after tossing a Frisbee into its target, said the field day was a fun way to raise money for a good cause. “There’s just a lot of people in my life that have had cancer,” Jacob said.

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American Cancer Society Relay for Life

Charles Honey
Charles Honey is a freelance writer and former columnist for The Grand Rapids Press/ MLive.com. As a reporter for The Press from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today magazine, Religion News Service and the Aquinas College alumni magazine. Read Charles' full bio.

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