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Kids take cancer message to students

Weekends during March, fifth-grader Grace LaPrairie isn't to be found out in the snow or watching her favorite movie.

Instead, she has been preparing for a busy schedule of manning an information desk promoting cancer awareness at her elementary school.

Mondays and Wednesdays throughout March, Grace LaPrairie, helped by sixth-grader Nathan Orf, has sat at her little table in the entrance hall at Royal Oaks Elementary School for two hours a day, selling fundraiser wristbands and giving out information on June's Relay For Life, the American Cancer Society's signature fundraiser.

"Kids have fun with fundraising at the Relay For Life, because there are games," LaPrairie said.

"We thought that if we had an adult come and hand out this information, the kids would just think it was an adult thing, but if we had kids handing it out, they would know it was for kids, too."

Grace's mother, Mary LaPrairie, has organized the Woodbury Relay For Life for the last five years, and this year, 10-year-old LaPrairie decided she wanted to do a little more than just set out the luminary bags which mark the course of the overnight relay walk.

"I'm having a lot of fun with it," said LaPrairie. "Kids are asking me what the Relay For Life is, why I'm helping the American Cancer Society and the stuff I'm handing out."

Nathan Orf, who is 12, has a special reason for helping LaPrairie.

"My cousin has leukemia right now," he explained, "and so it's great to know that you are helping people who really need the help."

The information desk will continue to be located in the entrance hall at Royal Oaks until March 28.

LaPrairie and Orf have a special event planned for the final week.

From March 24-28, Royal Oaks will take part in "Spirit Week", five days of activities all on a healthy theme, aimed to encourage kids to take positive steps to avoid becoming a cancer victim.

Monday is all about good nutrition, when kids can buy a healthy fruit bar for $1. Tuesday, students can pay $1 to wear their favorite sports jersey; Wednesday kids can donate $1 to "slap a no smoking patch on the wall"; Thursday's $1 goes towards permission to wear a hat in school; and Friday students can pay $1 to wear purple, the official Relay For Life color.

Both kids say their fellow students should leap at the opportunity to take part in the Relay For Life, as it's the one night in the year when they can stay up all night.


• Signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society

• Events take place across the country. Last year participants raised $407 million

• Teams of members take turns doing laps around a course over a 15-hour period, with at least one team member on the track at all times, symbolizing the fact that a cancer patient can not choose to "get off the track" of cancer

• Woodbury's Relay For Life will be held at the Ojibway Park grounds this year overnight from June 20-21, from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m.

• Visit the website for more information.