IES works together to fight cancer

Inverness Elementary School, along with the other Oak Mountain schools, is participating in Relay for Life on May 1 to support the American Cancer Society. This year's event has a carnival theme. (Contributed)

Inverness Elementary School, along with the other Oak Mountain schools, is participating in Relay for Life on May 1 to support the American Cancer Society. This year’s event has a carnival theme. (Contributed)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

NORTH SHELBY—For Inverness Elementary School third grade teacher Niki Burke, the school’s participation in Relay for Life isn’t just a great cause, it’s personal. Burke is a cancer survivor.

Burke clearly remembers the day she was diagnosed. She went to the doctor after school thinking she might have had mono or could be anemic, instead doctors told her she had leukemia.

“It was September 29, 2005. It was in the middle of the school year when I was teaching,” Burke said. “This school rallied, even when it happened, I didn’t have to worry about (anything).”

IES held the first school-wide Relay for Life following Burke’s diagnosis, and 10 years later, the school is once again rallying to raise money for cancer research.

“I don’t know a family that hasn’t been somehow affected (by cancer),” Burke said.

This year’s event has a carnival theme and the tagline, “working together ‘wheel’ rise above cancer,” to go along with a Ferris wheel logo.

The month leading up to the May 1 Relay for Life, IES will hold various events to raise money for the American Cancer Society, including jean days for teachers and a community yard sale on April 18.

“The community and the school will donate (items) and all proceeds will go straight to our cause,” Burke explained.

Donations for the yard sale can be dropped off at the IES music room. To donate large items, contact Kim Youngblood at kyoungblood@shelbyed.k12.al.us.

IES will also hold a shirt sale and a duct tape drive.

“We’re going to sell strips of duct tape and tape Mr. Norris (IES assistant principal) and our P.E. coach to the wall. Literally, they will be suspended,” Burke said with a laugh.

The other Oak Mountain schools are also participating alongside IES in Relay for Life.

“We dropped a gauntlet to have a little friendly competition,” Burke said.

The month of fundraising will culminate on May 1 on the football field at Heardmont Park, where all the schools will complete the Relay for Life together. The event will kick off with a survivors lap and at dusk, participants will line the track with luminaria dedicated to those who have fought or are fighting cancer.

“That’s when it makes it real,” Burke said. “You realize (doctors) couldn’t do what they do unless people support it. I’m one of those people the research has really helped.”

For more information about the Oak Mountain schools’ Relay for Life, or to donate to the cause, visit Relay.acsevents.org/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFLCY15MS?fr_id=63963&pg=entry.