05/04/11 Threatening weather may have forced the Relay For Life of Culver indoors, but it did little to dampen the spirit and enthusiasm of participants as a record $127,000 was raised after the April 15-16 event at Culver Academies.
Relay For Life of Culver, the first in Indiana to be student-organized, has raised nearly $500,000 for cancer research since it began in 2008. This year, the students managed and organized 600 participants represented by 67 teams in their quest to celebrate, remember, and fight back against the disease.
“We weren’t about to throw in the towel because of the weather,” said co-chair Kyle Blankenship, a Crown Point, Ind., senior. “Despite the challenges that we faced, we were able to hold an extraordinary event. Our fourth annual Relay For Life, and our first held indoors, has been by far the most successful. The fact that we were able to accomplish that under such circumstances speaks volumes of the entire Culver community.”
Relay For Life of Culver at Culver Academies was initiated in 2008 as a senior-service project and has since been carried out by a student committee comprised of eight subcommittees with over 100 student volunteers.
The all-night event featured an appearance by Indianapolis Colts placekicker Adam Vinatieri for the second consecutive year. Vinatieri spoke at the survivor dinner preceding the Relay, attended the opening ceremony, and walked the first lap.
The Academies’ fund-raising effort was bolstered April 13 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.
Speaking at an all-school assembly, 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’ students, parents, alumni, and faculty/staff, plus residents of the town and Marshall County. As in years past, Relay included 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.
“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.
“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.”
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 (Ind.) 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.
“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,” the Buxtons said.
About Culver Academies
Located on a 1,800-acre lakeside campus in northern Indiana, Culver Academies offers a coeducational college preparatory boarding school for grades 9-12 and a summer experience through the Culver Summer Schools & Camps for boys and girls ages 7-17.
Culver educates its students for leadership and responsible citizenship in society, in addition to its rigorous academic and extracurricular program.
Founded in 1894, Culver Military Academy, teaches young men leadership, self-discipline, and responsibility. The Culver Girls Academy, founded in 1971, is based upon the English prefect system of student leadership to achieve similar values for young women.
Culver’s annual boarding school enrollment of 800 is comprised of a student body representing more than 40 states and 25 countries, including China, Mexico, Europe, South Korea, and Canada. More than one third of students receive need-based financial aid. The same approach to leadership is taught in the Culver Summer Schools & Camps, which enrolls 1,400 boys and girls from over 40 states and 35 countries.