Kaitlyn Davis, Melanie Fricchione and Ronnie Kochmer, three local high school students, recognize they are part of something bigger.
One of the goals they share is to do their part to help to eradicate cancer and provide relief to those suffering from the disease. Their vehicle for change is through fundraising and, with the help of other students they are organizing “Relay for Life,” in partnership with the American Cancer Society.
Davis, a Scranton Preparatory School student is chair and Fricchione and Kochmer, both students at the Abington Heights High School are co-chairs of “Relay for Life,” an organized, overnight community fundraising walk and one of the American Cancer Society’s biggest fundraisers.
At a Relay for Life event, teams of people camp out around a track and members of each team take turns walking around the track. The event will be held at Abington Heights High School, 222 Noble Rd, Clarks Summit, June 8 to 9 with an opening ceremony at 3 p.m., survivor dinner at 5:30 p.m. and a Luminaria ceremony at 9 p.m. Luminaria candles can be purchased in memory or in honor of loved ones who have battled cancer and the suggested donation for the luminary is $10.
Survivors and their families are welcome to attend the dinner, ceremony or participate in the entire relay event.
Organizers are seeking teams, sponsors and survivors who would like to participate in Relay for Life. For more information, contact Cindy Delaney, American Cancer Society income development representative, at 562.9749, or visit relayforlife.org/paabington.
Additional fundraising events are also in the works, including a movie night at Lackawanna Trail High School. Details will be announced.
Davis, Fricchione and Kochmer are also among the young voices of a group known as Cancer Action Network, CAN; the nation’s leading cancer advocacy organization that works to make cancer issues a national priority.
CAN is an affiliate organization to the American Cancer Society, and its members include “anyone and everyone.”
“If you have a mission or something you are very passionate about in helping to prevent cancer, it’s open to everyone. It’s your voice. The more people we have to rally, the more success we have in getting healthier lifestyles to help in this fight,” said Delaney referring to CAN’s ability to lobby Congress to get important bills passed. “That’s why we really push to get as many members and people involved in CAN, so their voices can be heard…”
Davis said of her mission, “I feel if we can motivate all of the high schoolers to get involved now and help to make a difference, then they’ll keep making a difference…once I saw all of the good Relay was doing…that was really encouraging.”
Fricchione’s goal is to get high school students to realize they are part of something bigger than themselves. “It’s a chance for all of us to get off Facebook and stop texting. We’re all here to make a difference.”
And Kochmer, whose two grandparents died from cancer said, “I’m always one to help people. When I’m involved with Relay, I see there’s so much passion in it and when we’re at the event, it’s just overwhelming…it’s really inviting.”
He is active in hopes that a cure will be found in his lifetime. “I want to keep raising money and help as much as I can to get people involved. I feel one day it’s possible to find a cure. Research has come so far…It’s all about money.”
Donations to the American Cancer Society help to fund researchers; local programs such as “Road to Recovery,” which provides drivers and vans to take patients to their treatments, “Look Good, Feel Better,” which offers licensed specially trained cosmetologists and hair stylists who are specially trained to work with patients undergoing treatment; a free wig, turban or scarf, as well as a kit of skincare products and the Hope Lodge, a place for cancer patients and a caregiver to stay while undergoing treatment.