By Starrla Cray
MONTROSE, DELANO, MN What do pill bottles and quarters have to do with fighting cancer?
A lot, actually, if you talk to Montrose Elementary School fifth grader Ashlyn Otto.
She’s asked each of her fellow students to help raise money for the Relay for Life in Delano by filling a pill bottle with quarters.
There are three fifth-grade classes, and the first one to get all of the pill bottles filled will receive an ice cream party Tuesday, June 1.
“If every kid did it, I could earn $476 for my relay team,” said Ashlyn, who has 68 students in her fifth grade.
Ashyln is part of the same relay team as her mother, Michelle. It’s called “Jean’s Fighting Force” in honor of Michelle’s mother, who died of lung and kidney cancer in February 2009.
“My main reason for doing this fundraiser for the relay is my grandma,” Ashlyn said. “I am really close to my mom’s side of the family. That was my inspiration.”
She got the idea to fill pill bottles with quarters from the Relay for Life national organization.
“There was a paper with ideas and I thought it would be a quick and easy way to raise money,” Ashlyn said. “That was the one that stood out.”
Fundraising suggestions are also available on the Relay for Life web site, www.relayforlife.org. To see a list, scroll over “training and resources” at the top, and click on “fundraising ideas.”
“Coborn’s in Delano donated the pill bottles,” Michelle said. Each one holds about $7 worth of quarters.
Michelle said that her team is trying to get more youth involved in Relay for Life.
“They have a mini relay that the students can do,” she said. “This is our first year with the mini relay at the school. Each team member is asked to raise $100.”
This is Michelle’s second year on a relay team. She and Ashlyn know firsthand the impact cancer can have on a family.
“My dad is a cancer survivor,” Michelle said. All five of her father’s siblings died of cancer, and one of her aunts passed away less than a month ago.
So far, Ashlyn’s fundraising efforts are starting to pay off.
“They are starting to come in,” Michelle said.
“They are being very quick about it,” Ashlyn added. “One kid was really generous and donated $15.”
Some of the students in Ashlyn’s grade aren’t able to donate, she said.
“Not everybody is able to do it, because money is tight,” she said.
Each student who participates will receive a small token, such as a keychain, Michelle said. The class that turns the bottles in quickest will be rewarded with vanilla ice cream, with a variety of toppings.
“That was my idea,” Ashlyn said. “The reward is always a pizza party, so I wanted to be different.” Also, ice cream is less expensive than pizza, and more students will probably enjoy it, she added.
Ashlyn will recognize the winning class at the Montrose Elementary School carnival Friday, June 4. A speaker from the American Cancer Society will also be present.
Ashlyn’s teacher is Janice Michalek. The other fifth grade teachers include Jennifer Mueller and Mary Mullin.
The Delano Relay for Life will be Friday, July 30 and Saturday, July 31.
Anyone interested in getting involved on the committee or as a team for the 2010 Relay For Life can contact the American Cancer Society at (651) 255-8760 or e-mail the Delano committee at Delano.email@example.com.
Go to www.relayforlife.org/delanomn for more information.