Nick Forche lined up with several other students in a tent eyeing a dangling doughnut hung from a pink string. Then he attacked it while holding his hands behind his back.
While the 14-year-old eighth grader at Timberstone Junior High School lost the first round of the doughnut-eating contest, others on the Avengerz relay race team took a shot at trying to chew and swallow the glazed pastry without letting any crumbs fall to the ground.
PHOTO GALLERY: 20th Annual Sylvania 24 Hour Relay Challenge
The eating contest was one of the popular activities that drew crowds of teens and tweens from area schools to the white tent set up on Timberstone’s track area. Children swarmed the tent, lining up to be next. They tried to get a peek of the contest inside or cheered on their teammates to win.
Nick of Sylvania was one of 130 students, sixth grade and up, who signed up for the Sylvania Community Action Team’s 24-Hour Relay Challenge, in which teams of 10 took turns running laps on the track for 24 hours, each trying to accumulate 50 to 100 miles for their team.
For its 20th anniversary, this year’s challenge was themed Hunger Games: SCAT Edition. What started in 1984 as a small event at Northview High School, based on a family-centered relay in California, has evolved into a community affair that leads children by example to make positive choices in life. The Sylvania city and Sylvania Township police departments assisted with security and logistics.
The Sylvania Township Fire Department set up a “safety house” to handle any injuries that might occur during the run. More than 60 residents, restaurants, community organizations, and businesses donated time, money, products, and food to pull off the event.
From its 9 a.m. start, the challenge showed students that dancing, running an obstacle course, or cheering friends in the eating contest could be more fun than egging pals toward drinking alcohol shots or trying an illegal drug that could lead them toward addiction.
“This is part of validating with the children that the majority of kids are making good choices, children like them,” Deb Chany, SCAT director, said.
Across the way from the doughnut contest, another group of children tie-dyed T-shirts. The rainbow-colored shirts that swayed in the wind to dry will become reminders of the participants’ involvement.
First-time participants Valya Snyder and Cassidy Spraur, both 12, and Kennedi Humphrey, 11, all Arbor Hill Junior High sixth graders on the Sharks team, said the event was fun and they most enjoyed the inflated playground and the dance contest. “It’s amazing,” Cassidy said as she and her teammates sat on the lawn taking a break.
In the late afternoon, Karen Vadino, a motivational speaker with a comedic edge, underscored SCAT’s mission by working to reinforce the message that people’s actions have consequences that not only affect themselves, but their friends and their families.