Hispanic Honor Society breaks records at Relay for Life

“Senora’s Soldados” raises over $7,000 for the American Cancer Society


Julie Wright

Members of Senora’s Soldados gather at their campsite for a group photo before evening festivities, like the luminaria ceremony, begin.

Elizabeth Cetnar, Copy Editor

It was a record-breaking weekend for Hispanic Honor Society (SHH) as its team, Senora’s Soldados, raised over $7,000 for the American Cancer Society by participating in the greater Shelby Township area’s Relay for Life Event.

Hispanic Honor Society’s signature spring service project, participating in the 22 hour-long Relay for Life event, took place on May 20 and 21 at Riverbends Park. Preparation for the event began months before, with all members being tasked with raising at least $35 for the American Cancer Society.

Adviser Julie Wright had a feeling just two days before the event that the group could break their previous fundraising records and be able to raise $7,000 for the event. She encouraged her team members to post fundraising links on social media in order to reach their new goal. By the time the event had ended, the team had raised over $3,000 online, in addition to more than $4,000 in cash and check donations from student members, their families, and friends.


“This year, I have awesome officers,” Wright said, “so it was the first year that I wasn’t as stressed going into it.”

At the event, the team sold handmade bandanas decorated with awareness ribbons and sold them in order to raise more funds for cancer research and treatment.

It wasn’t just all work for the team members, though. Wright often referred to the event as a “free-for-all” to encourage her students to have as much fun as possible at the event. Students participated in a fundraising volleyball tournament, watched various local bands entertain the crowd, and walked countless miles around the park’s track.

“I walked for cancer and had a really amazing time,” junior Brandon Campion said. “Watching all the people there supporting those affected by cancer was really awesome.”

“It was a lot of fun,” senior Brooke Chmiel said. “I got to know a lot of different people in the group that I’ve never really been given the opportunity to talk to.”

Despite a mid-afternoon rain shower, the team wasn’t defeated. Those who were still at the event made the most of their time there and gathered under the team’s meeting tent to play games, listen to music, and enjoy their time with each other. Relayers also could have participated in other team’s fundraisers, from a team volleyball tournament to purchasing a five dollar pie to throw in a friend’s face.

“It was raining so we just stayed under the tent for most of it. It was still fun [despite the rain],” junior Ashley Spitzbarth said. “We also walked around, saw other tents, and listened to the [entertainers] perform with their guitars.”

The event also gave participants a time to reflect on their reasons for being there. Some students were motivated to participate in the event because of a friend or family member’s battle with cancer, or because they simply wanted to raise money for cancer treatment and research.

“I Relayed because I had an aunt and a grandmother who suffered from skin cancer,” Chmiel said. “I have quite a bit of friends whose parents fought cancer and just knowing how hard it was on them made me want to raise money for a cure.”

“I participated in Relay because my teacher, Mrs. Wright,” Campion said, “helped me to have an introduction to Relay. I’m forever thankful for that.”

“I wanted to help raise money for the American Cancer Society,” junior Briana Henig said. “I also wanted to help celebrate the lives of those we’ve lost to cancer, those fighting currently, and those who are survivors.”

The highlight of the event for many was the luminaria ceremony, in which decorated bags for friends and family who have battled with cancer were lit in their honor and memory. A bagpiper led the procession of people holding candles. A slideshow was also shown with the names of teams’ loved ones that had been affected by cancer.

“The walk is always a touching experience because we walk in silence in honor of our family members,” Henig said. “This year did not disappoint.”

“I did enjoy [the luminaria ceremony],” Chmiel said, “because I felt like it brought everyone closer together. I saw so many people that I knew shed tears and I feel like that made our Honor Society seem more like a family.”



“I saw so many people that I knew shed tears and I feel like that made our Honor Society seem more like a family.”

— senior Brooke Chmiel

This year’s Relay for Life was unique in that it was one of the few years in which it had to be cut short due to weather. Shortly past midnight, Wright and SHH officers made the decision to send everyone home for safety reasons, since severe thunderstorms were in the weather forecast for the late night hours.

“It was a really hard decision,” Wright said. “I had posted something on Facebook, and another teacher had said that they took down their [camp] during the thunderstorm about 30 minutes after we did. I felt validated by that.”

Nevertheless, the team agrees that the 2017 edition of Relay for Life was a successful one. After all, as of press time, they had raised $7,071 for the American Cancer Society. Utica High School was also named to be the school that raised the most money at the event, and Senora’s Soldados placed fourth out of 43 teams for the amount of money they raised.

“I think Relay went awesome,” Wright concluded.