Ballard Elementary fifth-graders Brandi Lefevre, Melissa Bayles and Katelynn Larsh participate in the school’s annual Relay for Life event Friday. Hundreds of children circled the dirt track behind the school in hour-long shifts for the duration of the school day. (Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT)
Ballard Elementary fifth-graders Brandi Lefevre, Melissa Bayles and Katelynn Larsh participate in the school’s annual Relay for Life event Friday. Hundreds of children circled the dirt track behind the school in hour-long shifts for the duration of the school day. (Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT)

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Running for cancer research

Published 9:40am Monday, May 5, 2014

Ballard students take part in annual Relay for Life event

The thin dirt track behind Ballard Elementary School in Niles was filled Friday with students, running, walking and skipping one step closer to a future free of cancer.

In the weeks leading up to the school’s annual Relay for Life event, Ballard students had been raising money that will go to the Niles-Buchanan Relay for Life’s cause to fund cancer research.

To raise the money, each class pledged to walk around the track for a little less than an hour at different times throughout the school day.

Laura Dierlam, Ballard teacher, said the school has raised approximately $1,500 with about two weeks remaining to collect donations.

Classes that raise the most money will be rewarded with an ice cream treat. In each class, the student who collects the most money will get to throw water balloons at school staff later in the year.

“That’s a lot of fun for the kids,” Dierlam said.

Also Friday, students in Ballard’s Girls on the Run program cheered on and provided water to the people moving around the track.

“It’s our community service project for the year,” said Jill Haboush, Ballard Parent Teacher Organization member. “Part of our program is to provide a service, so we tied it to Relay for Life like we did last year.”

Forty-eight girls are participating in Ballard’s Girls on the Run, a non-profit organization that uses running to instill self-confidence in young girls. The program is for girls grades third through fifth. The group meets twice a week after school, culminating in a 5K run at the Berrien County Youth Fairgrounds later this month.

“They learn how to stand up for themselves, how to be confident and how to promote anti-bullying,” Haboush said.

Ballard’s Relay for Life event is the continuation of a tradition that began many years ago when a student at Eastside School in Niles became stricken with cancer. In honor of the student, the school organized a Relay for Life event that became an annual tradition, which continued until Eastside closed in 2010.

The event was resurrected at Ballard in 2011.

Ballard raised around $3,000 at last year’s event.

 

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