Putting cancer on the run : Oak Mountain freshman beats disease, helps others

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 3, 2007

There are certain days that just seem to linger in a person&8217;s memory.

For Oak Mountain High School freshman Daniel Wolfe, Aug. 17, 1998, would change his life forever. That&8217;s the day Daniel was diagnosed with leukemia.

Feb. 13, 2001 was the day Daniel was officially declared cancer free, but on March 23, 2007, Daniel and his family officially fought back against the disease that has defined him since he was 6-years-old.

The Wolfes joined close to 400 others at the Relay For Life of Oak Mountain at Heardmont Park.

Relay For Life is the American Cancer Societ&8217;s largest fundraiser. Oak Mountain&8217;s event raised more than $50,000 for cancer patient services, research and other programs.

&8220;Given the opportunity, high school students will absolutely amaze you on what they can accomplish,&8221; said Stephanie Maxey, the American Cancer Society staff person in charge of the event.

The relay was the first-ever for the community, and was put together by mostly students from Oak Mountain High School.

Many of those same students helped see Wolfe through his cancer journey, and helped him deal with his mother&8217;s diagnosis last year.

&8220;They&8217;ve all been really supportive of me, and treated me like I was normal,&8221; said Wolfe. &8220;It&8217;s uplifting to see everyone out here.&8221;

The students, along with their families, took part in the relay from sundown to sun-up, setting up campsites along the football field.

Many other people from across north Shelby County came out, dividing into teams before the event.

Members of each team took turns walking around the track throughout the night. There was even a special lap for survivors, like Daniel and his mother.

&8220;I was always a mother of a child with cancer. Now, today, I&8217;m a survivor. It was a strange feeling,&8221; said Laura Wolfe.

Students kept the night going with games, bands and even a Big Man on Campus contest.

Even the need for sleep didn&8217;t keep some from trying to make a difference.

&8220;At 2 a.m. we were so close to $40,000. I knew we could do more, so we woke people to ask for spare change,&8221; said Kathleen Boehme, the student chairperson for the relay.

The event ended the next morning just after 6 a.m. Its impact, though, will last even longer.

&8220;This is just really great to think how many lives we&8217;re going to save,&8221; said Wolfe