Janesville schools team up to fight cancer Print
Written by Kevin Wondrash, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013 -- 12:00 AM
About 70 eighth-graders from the four Catholic grade schools in Janesville walk through various neighborhoods on November 20 as part of a “Walk for Life” service project.
About 70 eighth-graders from the four Catholic grade schools in Janesville walk through various neighborhoods on November 20 as part of a "Walk for Life" service project. The walking route was almost five miles long. Middle school students from the combined schools raised money that will be donated to St. Jude Research Children's Hospital in the fight against cancer. To view or purchase photos from this event go to madison catholicherald.smugmug.com (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

JANESVILLE -- "It's a little chilly, but it's for a good cause."

Those were the words of St. John Vianney student Genna Laesch as she walked almost five miles with about 70 of her fellow eighth-graders from Janesville’s four Catholic grade schools.

Several times during the year, students from the schools get together to participate in social, spiritual, and service activities.

St. John Vianney Principal Judi Dillon said the schools participate in the activities to "collaborate" and not "compete" as they do in their more common interactions in athletics.

On this particular Wednesday in November, the students were participating in a "Walk for Life" after raising money for the fight against cancer. The money is being donated to St. Jude Research Children’s Hospital.

Each combined group of students -- sixth, seventh, and eighth-graders -- started at one of Janesville's four Catholic grade schools -- St. John Vianney School, St. Mary School, St. William School, and St. Patrick School -- and walked a nearly five-mile route through various neighborhoods with a stop at each of the schools.

Laesch, along with St. John Vianney eighth-grader Quinn Kiefer, are part of an advisory board with eighth-graders from the other schools who planned the fundraiser and walk.

"It's pretty cool because you're helping a lot of people out," said Kiefer.

Going on the walk

The eighth-graders, along with teachers and some parent volunteers, lined up outside St. John Vianney School at 12:30 p.m. in the afternoon to begin their walk.

A rotating team of students carried a pink banner in the front of the group signifying they were the eighth-graders.

The first leg of the walk, in the 40-degree weather, was a one-mile route between St. John Vianney and St. Mary School. They walked through residential areas and up a few hills before arriving at the first stop.

Each of the schools along the route served as a stopping point where students could rest briefly with snacks and beverages.

Staff at St. Mary School had apples and water waiting for the students, who reflected on their efforts and spending time as a group.

Laesch said she liked "being able to be with your friends helping and doing something good."

"It’s pretty cool because you get to talk to some friends at other schools and meet them again," said Kiefer.

After walking another leg of the route, the students were surprised with hot chocolate at St. William School.

As the students got closer to their final stop before heading back to the starting point, some of the younger students from St. Patrick School were waiting outside to cheer them on.

The eighth-graders met the cheers with smiles and high fives as they walked past their young fans and into the school for their last short break.

Now in the home stretch, the students made their way back to St. John Vianney, closing in on the five-mile mark in about two hours time.

They all gathered inside for cookies and water. Some of them still were all smiles, while others leaned against the wall, tired from the walk.

"It's just a really good feeling to help and know that you're walking for a reason and to help people," said Laesch.


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