Survivor relays hope

Some local students are gearing up to fight cancer one step at a time.

This Friday, March 23, will be the Oak Mountain Relay for Life, sponsored by the American Cancer Society (ACS).

Scores of people, mostly students, are expected to walk to raise money and awareness.

&8220;It&8217;s a fun filled, over night event,&8221; said Scarlet Thompson, Director of Communication for ACS.

One family participating this weekend knows all too well the pains of this deadly disease.

&8220;I couldn&8217;t believe it. I thought it was a mistake,&8221; said Julie Hicks when she first heard five years ago that her son, John, had cancer.

Her son was diagnosed in the eighth grade with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

&8220;I kept asking myself why me,&8221; he said.

The disease and its treatment forced Hicks to cut back on sports, his then great passion.

Hicks was a part of the baseball and basketball teams. During his ninth grade basketball season, Hicks relapsed after being in remission for several months. The intensive treatment he needed made him to weak to play.

&8220;It is probably the hardest part for him (not to play),&8221; said his mom.

John, now a senior, is currently in remission, although still undergoing some treatment. He is healthy looking,

happy and keeps a constant upbeat attidtude that encourages many.

&8220;He is an inspiration because he never gives up,&8221; said the proud mother.

This year he and his family are participating in the Relay for Life for the first time.

This year&8217;s relay has a unique twist, said coordinators.

&8220;What makes this so different from other relays is that this is entirely student lead,&8221; Stephanie Maxey, development manager for ACS.

According to Maxey, students from Oak Mountain High School, where Hicks is a student, designed the event. Teams from the middle and elementary schools will also participate.

Teams collect money and pledge to walk for 12 straight hours. At least one member must keep walking at all times, said Maxey. The Oak Mountain event will be held at Heardmont Park with tents set up inside the football field. The night&8217;s events will include concerts by student groups, inflatable games and guest speakers.

&8220;It&8217;s like a tailgate (party),&8221; said Maxey.

For more information

about Relay for Life or cancer, visit www.acsevents.org/ relay/al/oakmountain or contact the American Cancer Society