Olentangy Valley News

Basketball battle

Students' effort is a win for them, cancer society

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When it comes to great basketball rivalries, the NCAA and the NBA have nothing on OMES.

That's Olentangy Meadows Elementary School, which hosted a matchup last week between maybe the two biggest rivals of all time: students and teachers.

A team of fifth-graders played a team of teachers Friday, March 28, for bragging rights and to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

Michelle Ruhe, a second-grade teacher who helped organize the game at the school, said beyond the fun, the game had a serious message for the students.

"We just want them to be aware that all of this is going to the American Cancer Society," she said. "Everything we're doing is going to benefit that charity that we've kind of taken on as a building for the last few years."

Students paid $5 each to participate in the game, while other students could pay $1 per vote to select the starting lineup for the team of teachers. The event raised more than $400 for the cause.

The game is the latest fundraising event the school has conducted to raise money to fight cancer.

In January, students wrote the names of family members or friends affected by cancer on cards and paid to have them attached to a display near the cafeteria. In February, the students bought candygrams that could be sent to others in the building.

So far this year, the students have raised more than $1,200 for the American Cancer Society. The school will continue to host monthly fundraising events through the end of the school year.

"As soon as this one ends, we start planning for the next one," event volunteer Ann Karbler said.

Before the game began, students poured into the gym and started cheering for the fifth-graders. Some held homemade signs reading "Go Kids!" and "Students: in it to win it."

Teachers wore shirts reading "Team McLean" in honor of fifth-grade teacher and cancer survivor Christina McLean.

After player introductions and a few teachers formed a cheerleading pyramid, the game began with the teachers jumping out to an early lead. The teachers found success with the fast break on offense and blocked more shots on defense.

Ruhe said that prior to the game, the teachers debated how tough to play against the students.

"Some were like: 'We're going to be careful and be nice,' " she said. "But others were like: 'No way!' "

After a few teachers were traded to the student team, the students came away with a 26-18 victory and their fans stormed the gym floor.

Ruhe said the event generated so much excitement that the school might have to host it again next year.

Volunteers hope that excitement continues to build ahead of the Relay For Life of Olentangy, which also benefits the American Cancer Society.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the event, which will be held from 6 p.m. May 9 to noon May 10 at Olentangy Liberty High School.

At the event, teams of family members, friends and co-workers raise funds by walking the track.

For more information on the Relay For Life of Olentangy, visit relayforlife.org/olentangy.

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