Coast 2 Coast for cancer: HAMS students cheer on runner

Alison Bradley is cheered on by Hamburg Area Middle School 6th grade students on her run to fight cancer.

Hamburg Area Middle School sixth grade students gathered on the sidewalk on State Street on Thursday afternoon to cheer on Alison Bradley as she attempts to break a world record and raise money for cancer research.

Currently the students are participating in a program with the American Cancer Society called Relay Recess. The goal of the program is to raise awareness and help educate ways to reduce the risk of cancer.

It just so happened that with only a week left before Relay For Life Central Berks that Bradley’s run went right through Hamburg.

“My goal is to run the 2,800 miles between LA and NYC and to do this in less than 69 days (the current world record). I am doing this not only as a personal goal but to also raise money for cancer research,” Bradley said on her website. “This run is not only to raise money to hopefully find a cure, but to also provide inspiration and to raise awareness of the struggles people go through on a daily basis.”

The students were full of excitement as they waited for Bradley and that excitement grew when they had the chance to speak with her. Many of the students held their handmade posters up high for Bradley to see and many then asked for her autograph as well.

Tracy Francis, a sixth grade teacher and one of the teachers in charge of Relay Recess at the school, explained how eager the kids were to meet Bradley and that they continued to talk about the moment the following day.

It was great for the kids, but also for Bradley to see what an inspiration she was to them, commented Francis.

“She said, ‘I’m in a lot of pain today, but I keep thinking about those kids waiting for me,’” Francis said on corresponding with Bradley earlier that day.

The moment was just one of the many events the students have been involved with since January leading up to Relay For Life. Last year, half of sixth grade participated in Relay Recess. Francis was approached by the American Cancer Society early January about the program and said, “We jumped on board and kind of went crazy with it.”

Hamburg Area Middle School is the first school in Central Berks to be a part of the program and is being used as a model school by the American Cancer Society.

The four goals of Relay Recess are physical activity, good nutrition, sun safety and tobacco prevention. Using these goals, the teachers have created lessons incorporating the points as well as following with state standards to make sure that everything is serving an education purpose.

The students have raised (as of May 10) at total of $5,300. Their original goal was $5,000 and in the first month alone they raised over $3,000. Francis created a new challenge. If the students raise $7,000 by May 17, she will buy all of the sixth grade students ice cream.

“It’s a lot of work, but definitely worth it,” said Francis.

At Relay For Life Central Berks, they will have a tent titled “Face of a Hero” to go with the theme this year which is “Heroes.” Going with a comic book feel, there will be a “Hope” signal instead of a bat signal with a city skyline featuring a superhero character battling cancer. In the windows will be faces of heroes brought in by the students of people they know who have dealt with cancer.

Francis commented on the way in which not only students have gotten involved, but also the way in which the administration, parents and community have helped out as well.

To find out more information on Alison Bradley, keep track of her run or donate visit her website run2fightcancer.webstarts.com. Relay For Life Central Berks is May 17-18 from 6 p.m. to 12 p.m. at Schuylkill Valley School District High School Stadium.