The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 25, 2013

Park Middle School walks for a cure

By Brandi Underwood
Register-Herald Reporter

BECKLEY — Pink ribbons were pinned on T-shirts. Pink socks were pulled up knee high. Pink collars were popped on polo shirts. The color of breast cancer awareness lapped the gymnasium at Park Middle School on Thursday for the school’s fourth annual Walk for a Cure event.

Cold weather forced the walk indoors this year, but the venue change didn’t dampen students’ spirits. Each grade level dedicated 30 minutes to walking laps around the gym, many of which were clad with pink signs dedicating their walk to a relative or loved one.

While students were able to enjoy a slight break from the classroom, what they participated in was a form of volunteerism, and can be equally valuable to their growth, Principal Jacquie McPeake explained.

“I really think our students take it seriously and they think of their family members and loved ones who have suffered through cancer,” McPeake said. “It gives them a chance to recognize those loved ones that they’ve lost and see that the school cares about their education and their community.”

McPeake said that many students suffer the loss of loved ones while in school, and “it’s important for kids to find a way to funnel that grief into something positive.”

Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” blared over the gym’s speakers for the first lap of the walk, called the “survivor lap,” which was led by Park faculty members who have beaten cancer.

“I walk for my grandmaw,” read one sign. “I walk for my Aunt Peggy,” read another.     

The signs, purposed as runner’s bibs, were available for purchase by students for 50 cents, as well as pink ribbons assembled by the student council. Participants donated $1 to take part in the walk.

Katelyn Meadows and Laken Wallace, both eighth-graders and officers of student council, spent more than four hours making 270 pink ribbons for the event.  

“I think it’s a really great cause,” Wallace said. “So many women have breast cancer. We need to find a cure.”

Meadows said that she was inspired to help with the cause because she’s seen what loved ones have gone through while battling cancer.

While half of the money raised went to the student council, the other half was donated to the American Cancer Society.

“We try to make it positive,” Park’s Health/P.E. teacher Angela Culicerto said. “We do discuss cancer in health class, and this event lets them take home a better understanding of what cancer is, how it affects the home and how they can help give back to their community.”

Culicerto said that the event was themed pink for breast cancer, but students were encouraged to honor friends and relatives who had battled any type of cancer.

“We really like to support our community, because our community really supports the school,” Culicerto said.

Coordinated by Park’s student council and wellness council, the event raised close to $400 by the day’s end.