April 04, 2013
Rising Senior Zachary Ford was invited about a year ago to head up the 2013 Relay For Life at Shorecrest. This year’s event is the 8th annual fundraiser hosted by the school on behalf of the American Cancer Society. Serving as the Event Chair is a monumental undertaking, especially for a full-time student with a demanding academic load, a busy after-school sports schedule, and part-time work at his family's Midas shop on 4th Street.
Zack spent a few weeks pondering the offer and decided to take on the challenge.
"Cancer has been a part of my family for a few generations,” Zack said. "My great grandma died from it when I was young and my grandma died from it when I was older, in 7th grade.”
At the time of his family’s loss five years ago, Zack’s mom Patricia was serving as the Event Chair for the Relay at Shorecrest for the second consecutive year. Zack, along with his younger brother Max, headed up teams of classmates. Together, the siblings’ teams raised nearly $10,000 that year towards the total of almost $130,000 raised at the 2008 Relay.
"I saw it as a leadership opportunity to work with the committee, and do something that helps a lot of people,” Zack said, explaining the commitment he made.
The student organizing committee Zack leads is comprised of nearly 20 Upper Division students and he works with several adults on the committee that includes the headmaster, the facilities director, the service learning director, several parent volunteers, as well as Zack’s mom, who’s there to share from her experience as a past Event Chair. Zack also works closely with the community representatives from the American Cancer Society's Pinellas Unit to follow the event guidelines.
With a week to go until the event, Zack reflected last week about what he’s learned. "I didn’t realize the amount of organization that goes into an event like this,” he said. "It’s important to understand the plan. With Relay, there are a lot of details to pay attention to, and you have to communicate changes,” he added.
When asked about his biggest challenge, Zack shared about managing the student organizing committee, which started meeting monthly, on campus at 7:30 a.m. before school starts, in November and increased the frequency to bi-weekly in February.
"I learned some life skills having to coordinate with a lot different people and different personalities,” Zack said. The experience has given him some insight about what type of work he may want to go into once he’s finished with college (he’s committed to attending the University of Miami in the fall). For now, he’s looking forward Relay For Life at Shorecrest on Friday, April 5, with graduation just a few weeks away.
Relay success isn’t measured for him in the amount raised, even though Shorecrest’s Relay is over $55,000 raised already towards the $90,000 goal. "I wanted everyone to come together, see what they each get out of being a part of it,” Zack added.
His greatest wish is that there’s no longer a need for Relay For Life because a cure has been found and people have learned how to prevent cancer.