Students from Wheaton Warrenville South and Wheaton North high schools are gearing up for one of the biggest all-youth events in the state: Relay For Life.
The rivals will come together from 6 p.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Sunday to fight cancer on the football field at Wheaton North. More than 550 people are expected to participate in the event, which historically has raised about $90,000 each year for the American Cancer Society.
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Wheaton Warrenville South teacher Keagan Castro is the volunteer sponsor for the school's High Schools Against Cancer club. She said the students take full responsibility for planning the event, from contacting sponsors to decorating the field.
"What they pull off is amazing," she said. "It's a huge hit every year. I think they love the purpose. They love that there is a place to go where they are fighting cancer."
As of Monday, more than 92 teams have signed up for this year's relay. Throughout the night, participants will walk laps around the track. Some of the laps will have themes, such as school spirit, country, Hawaiian and Disney. There will also be laps dedicated to cancer survivors and their caregivers.
"There's lot of crying and cheering," Castro said of the survivor lap.
Organizers are still searching for survivors who want to participate in the survivors lap. Anyone from the community who has overcome cancer or is still fighting is urged to contact Castro at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We love to have as much support as we can, especially from survivors," said Jeremy Hunka, a Wheaton Warrenville South senior who serves as an event co-chair. "It's nice to have people see what we do."
Hunka said he started helping with Relay For Life during his freshman year because he wants to "make a future without cancer."
He encouraged students who have never attended to give the event a try. Besides taking laps around the track, there will be dozens of games and activities for the students to participate in, such as an oversized game of Twister, a water balloon toss and laser tag.
"We're young, we're lively, we're able to make a difference," he said. "It's incredibly fun. It's just a community you're not going to find anywhere else."
Members of the public are welcome to stay until 11 p.m. The event will then be put on lockdown for students who have raised more than $100.
For information, visit relayforlife.org and search for "Wheaton All Youth."