CALEDONIA — As Reagan McKeown and Molly Brown’s 12th birthdays approached this year, the best friends didn’t ask for presents or money for themselves.
Instead, the two St. Catherine’s Middle School sixth-graders from Caledonia asked friends and family to donate to Relay For Life, an annual cancer fundraiser which takes place overnight Friday at the Racine Zoo.
As of Wednesday they raised $781 for their team, Boot Scooten Boogie Out of Cancer.
When Reagan was about 8, her parents took her to the overnight event. She said she remembers face-painting and raffles, but her dad, Jeff McKeown, who works for a staffing company, said he mostly brought his daughter to show her about community involvement. She didn’t really understand what cancer was, he said. That was before her grandfather died of throat cancer, but Reagan said she remembers the candles lit in memory of people who died.
At the time she was too young to camp out and she had to go home after a couple hours. She had to go home the next two years as well.
This year, though, when she and Molly asked if they could stay overnight, Reagan’s dad told her yes, if they could each raise $100 for the event.
They were able to raise that, but they didn’t stop. As they started thinking ahead to their joint birthday party in May, they decided to ask friends and family to donate instead of giving them presents.
“We have countless birthdays left,” Molly said. But some people with cancer may only have a limited amount left, she said.
Molly sometimes worries about her appearance, she said. She also has Type 1 diabetes, which she has to constantly monitor.
But when she thinks about people with cancer, she said, “people have it way worse than me ... for me to worry about my hair and looks is nothing compared to other people worrying about their lives.”
Racine’s Relay For Life event
When: 3 p.m. Friday-10 a.m. Saturday
Where: Racine Zoo, 200 Goold St.
What: An overnight community event to fight against cancer and recognize survivors and caregivers. Team members take turns walking during the overnight event.
Features: Camp setup starts at 3 p.m., followed by opening ceremonies at 6 p.m. The event includes campsite judging, Zumba, a team parade and themed laps such as a bubble lap, poker run and glow-in-the-dark lap. The public is welcome to attend.