Annual fundraiser runs for two weeks and now includes entire community who work together raising money for cancer research

COURTESY OF MARIKA CONRAD - Hopkins teacher Marika Conrad (far right), who organizes the Relay Recess every year, poses wiit her mother and kids during the June 9 event.Year No. 10 for Hopkins Elementary's Relay Recess broke last year's outstanding fundraising amount, raising $6,476.84 for the American Cancer Society this year.

The amount was exactly $2.02 more than last year, according to organizer Marika Conrad, which shows that every penny and nickel does count.

The annual event that also celebrates healthy living included two two-hour sessions when groups of students ran around the track and participated in 13 different games and activities set up in the center of the track.

The two weeks leading up to the June 9 relay included many fundraising activities: Students could purchase charms, necklaces and key chains; bring in loose change; purchase tasty treats; collect donations from friends and family members; and participate in Pay to Wear Week, where for 25 cents they could dress in the theme of the day, including beach day, twin day and clash day.

Families also could purchase luminaria bags to decorate in memory or celebration of loves ones whose lives have been impacted by cancer. A canned food drive was held in conjunction with the fundraiser with the cans used to anchor the luminaria on the day of the relay before being donated to a local food bank.

SHERWOOD GAZETTE PHOTO: BARBARA SHERMAN - Rachel Murphy (right) with the American Cancer Society hands Hopkins teacher Marika Conrad an engraved plaque commemorating the school's 10 years of raising funds for the organization.As the activities were swirling around her on the day of the relay, Conrad, who was a fourth-fifth-grade teacher this past year, took a few moments to talk about the event that has become a communitywide affair.

"We have 70 high school and middle school kids helping today," said Conrad, adding, "This school is so generous. In the last nine years, we have raised $35,000. Principal Penny Salm OK'd a substitute teacher for me so I could be out here all day.

"The kids are having a good time, and it's nice to have all the activities. Hopkins is the only school that does this, and it is so important to raise money for something like this and do it rain or shine – cancer doesn't stop for bad weather."

She praised all the students, staff and other volunteers who worked to make the event possible.

"Students had to apply to be on a team of 24 asset-builders, and eight fifth-grade students did presentations with a slide show in every classroom to promote the relay," Conrad said.

Conrad thought she knew everything that was going to happen that day, but she got a surprise of her own: Rachel Sarasohn of the American Cancer Society presented Conrad with an engraved plaque commemorating the school for 10 years of raising money for the organization.

"This will look great in our school trophy case," Conrad said.

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