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Culver Relay For Life steps off Friday

April 15, 2011

Kelly Cares Foundation donated $2,500 Wednesday to Culver Academies’ Relay For Life. Making the presentation were, left to right, former Culver parent and trustee Mike Wilcox, the executive committee chair of Kelly Cares, vice president and co-founder Paqui Kelly, and Relay co-chairman Kyle Blankenship, a Crown Point, Ind., senior. Academies photo by Gary Mills.

CULVER — Walkers for the fourth annual Relay For Life of Culver will take their first steps toward a $130,000 goal at 7 p.m. Friday, April 15, at Culver Academies Multi-purpose building (moved from Oliver Field due to weather conditions), located on Academy Road.
The all-night event will feature Indianapolis Colts placekicker Adam Vinatieri for the second consecutive year. Vinatieri will speak at the survivor dinner preceding the Relay, attend the opening ceremony, and walk the first lap. New this year will be a fireworks show after dusk provided by Mad Bomber Fireworks Productions, according to Co-chairman Kyle Blankenship, a Crown Point, Ind., senior.
The Relay was the first in Indiana to be student-organized and has raised more than $350,000 since it began. This year 60 teams will be participating to raise funds for cancer research. Donations to the Relay For Life may be made online at www.Culver.org/relay.
Culver’s fundraising effort was bolstered Wednesday by a $2,500 check from the Kelly Cares Foundation and its founders Brian and Paqui Kelly. Paqui Kelly is a two-time cancer survivor and the wife of the University of Notre Dame football coach. The Kellys created the non-profit foundation to support initiatives and programs aligned with their goals and values of the Kelly family in health, education, and community.
In her remarks to students, Paqui Kelly stressed that she didn’t beat cancer by herself. It was a combination of family, friends, co-workers, community, and healthcare professionals. Teamwork and determination is what finishes the race, she said, whether it’s earning a diploma or walking all night for Relay For Life.
“Be aware of what small part you can do make a difference. Everything doesn’t have to be on a grand scale all the time,” she said.
Relay For Life of Culver is a community event with participation representing the Academies, the town, and Marshall County. As in years past, Relay will include food, games, and live music, plus the usual events and commemorations, such as testimonials of local cancer survivors and the luminary lap in memory of cancer victims.
Relay For Life at the Academies was initiated in 2008 as a senior-service project and has since been carried out by a student-run committee comprised of eight subcommittees with over 100 student volunteers. Fair Oaks Farm in Demotte, Ind., is once again the lead event sponsor. Fair Oaks is owned and operated by Culver parents Michael and Sue McCloskey.
“Our hard work and the rapid growth of Relay For Life are perfect examples of Culver students’ ability to lead by example and dedicate themselves to accomplishing their goals,” Blankenship said.
“I’ve had several family members who have been affected by cancer, including all of my grandparents. Relay For Life has become a way for students to fight back against this disease. The event holds even more importance to us as the largest and most distinct way that Culver Academies and the Culver community come together for one night,” he said.
In a joint statement, Head of Schools John Buxton and his wife, Pam, herself a cancer survivor, said “Communities are reflections of their deepest values. At Culver we value leadership and service; in a word: citizenship. One hundred years ago our students saved the town of Logansport from the devastation of a flood. Today our students are making a similar effort to save others from a different type of threat: the devastating effects of cancer.
“The baton has been passed this year to another group of students to work together for a successful fourth Relay For Life at the Culver Academies. We expect this to be a fulfilling evening of events, celebrations, and memories. They will bring together hundreds of people from this and surrounding communities. We could not be more proud or moved by the courage, determination, and vision of our students. They lead this effort. That is the Culver way.”

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