South Iredell High School’s colors may be navy blue and gold but for the next week or so, the dominant scheme will be purple.
On Tuesday morning, Judy Kurfees, guidance secretary at South, was joined by nearly two dozen members of the Interact Club to tie purple ribbons all along the fence in front of the school.
The purple ribbons are to recognize cancer survivors and pay tribute to those who lost their lives to the disease. It is an annual tradition for the Viking Interact Club to tie the ribbons in front of the school in the week leading up to Relay for Life.
This year’s Relay for Life is Saturday at Signal Hill Mall.
Kurfees said the members, numbering about 40 to 50, work all year to raise money for Relay for Life.
They sell T-shirts and the purple ribbons and work all weekend at the BalloonFest to raise money for the event. This year, South Iredell is in second place behind Piedmont Health Care as the top fundraiser. PCH has raised more than $12,500 while South has brought in nearly $6,700.
South’s total is thanks to the hard work and dedication of the club members, Kurfees, an advisor for the club, said.
One student in particular, Lilli Beaty, has sold the most ribbons for $20 each, Kurfees said. “She’s our top seller every year,” Kurfees said.
Supporting Relay for Life is part of the mission of the club, a Rotary-sponsored service organization for young people ages 12 to 18. That mission is service above self, and it’s something these teens display throughout the year, Kurfees said.
They give nights and weekends to help with fundraising activities and spend the day at Relay, she said.
It’s also personal, as most have been touched by cancer, either through family members or classmates.
And they need not look any further for inspiration than Kurfees – a 10-year breast cancer survivor.
This is just as much of a mission for Kurfees, both to provide the club members with a positive role model and to support a cause that is indeed personal.
Kurfees got the ribbon-tying started before the students got out of class Tuesday, dealing with the heat, but with determination to make sure every fence post was adorned with a purple ribbon. She also arranged for a major symbol of women’s cancers to be at the school Tuesday morning.
The Iredell County Firefighters Association’s pink fire truck was in the background as the students and some staff members took part in the ribbon-tying.
The truck, which was rolled out several years ago to raise awareness of cancer, and in particular women’s cancers, was donated by the Lake Norman Fire Department and given a fresh coat of pink paint. Since it was unveiled, it has been in parades and at events supporting cancer research.
That truck is also an important symbol personally for Kurfees. Her son Glenn (known as Pooh), both a paid and volunteer firefighter, and her own battle with cancer are reasons the truck is special to her. (She has another son - Charlie - in public service as a Statesville police officer.)
But there’s another reason the truck is special to Kurfees. As a survivor, she was one of those chosen to ride on it as it was unveiled.
On Tuesday, the students got a similar opportunity, climbing on top of the truck for a photo.
Kurfees said days like Tuesday are the reason she is such an advocate of Relay for Life and Interact.
“I’ll keep going as long as I can handle it,” she said.