Noah Petersen wants to fight cancer because his grandfather did -- and won. "He is my reason for fighting because I don't want the scare and depression that came along with the diagnosis to be on anyone elses mind [sic]," he wrote on his Relay for Life page.
Rachel Heistuman lost her grandfather to prostate cancer, an uncle to pancreatic cancer and she continues to watch other family members battling the disease. "No one deserves to live a fulfilling life and have it end to a disease that has no mercy," she wrote.
Noah and Rachael, along with classmates and now teammates of their one and only all-youth Freshmen Fighting Cancer Relay for Life team Knoll Williams, Brandon Vick, Cheyanne Orndorff and Cameron Collingwood have banded together to show that though they are young, they are still make a difference.
"...since so many people in my family have been diagnosed with cancer and I aspire to be an oncologist when I grow up, I figured this would be a great start," team captain Heistuman said in an email to Patch.
The six are all eighth graders preparing to graduate from . "My friends have come together because we're all done with cancer taking away our family members and we want to see a change, for now and the future generations," she said.
One might assume the individuals had some experience working on another Relay for Life team in years past and wanted to try their hand at being their own team. Not true, said Heistuman. "We are all newbies to this," she said.
The 'newbies' have a $2,500 fundraising goal and according to the team page have already amassed $706 in donations. In fact, the total exceeds $1,000, said Heistuman, but the team page won't reflect this until June 12.
Driven by a desire to see a cure for cancer, the team also hopes their efforts inspire other youth. "We are not only doing this to help in the fight against cancer but to create awareness that it doesn't matter how young you are, you can still make a great impact," said Heistuman. "We want to represent Enumclaw Middle School and high school in a positive way as well as other teenagers/young adults in our community. If more people knew about the actions that not only my team and I are making but other participants in this year's relay for life, it would create more awareness for the cause and encourage other kids to make a difference as well!"
Heistuman also clarifies that though the team is made up of students from EMS, they are not actually affiliated with the school. "This is just 6 of us wanting to raise money for cancer and have some fun while doing it!" she said.
Reflecting on their years in middle school, the students have some parting thoughts and words of wisdom for incoming sixth graders next year:
"My advice for the 6th graders is that there may be people who get on your nerves but you need to just brush them off." - Noah Petersen
"To the sixth graders: Make sure to keep your priorities straight and make sure you're focused on what really matters." - Brandon Vick
"It's sad to leave EMS but I'm extremely excited to move on to the high school. I've taken some good life lessons out of middle school: Don't get caught up in the pointless drama and don't be afraid to be who you really are... and I advise 6th graders to try to get that out of their three years at EMS as well." - Rachael Heistuman
"Sixth graders: Don't let others get you down; stand your ground." -Cameron Collingwood
To learn more about the Freshmen Fighting Cancer team or make a donation, visit: