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Ries Elementary students set out to help children diagnosed with cancer

The staff at Ries Elementary School, 9805 Lindell Road, hopes to teach its students the importance of community service through an event set to benefit a children’s nonprofit.

With the children’s input, the school is planning its second annual Blast Off for a Cure walk from 9 a.m. to noon May 3 on its field.

The event is set to include a silent auction, a cancer memorial wall and special guests. Proceeds are scheduled to benefit the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation, a nonprofit that supports children diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses.

“We want to instill a sense of community in our students,” said principal Mario Quinonez. “We always tell the kids, ‘It’s not always about us. It’s certainly about what we can give to our community.’ ”

Established in 1993, the nonprofit offers more than 50 free programs and services to diagnosed children and adults touched by cancer, according to Stephanie Parker, director of marketing and development.

“Cancer claims the lives of more children each year nationally than AIDS, asthma, cystic fibrosis and diabetes combined,” Parker said. “It’s the leading cause of death by disease in children and adolescents.”

The foundation serves more than 600 children each year by providing educational, financial and psychological support.

“We’re not affiliated with any national organization,” Parker said. “So all the money stays locally and helps children and families that live in our community in Southern Nevada.”

The event was created by the school’s student council. The students met with the foundation’s staff in February and started collecting money in March.

“It’s children helping children,” Quinonez said. “Plus, we all know someone who has survived or passed from cancer, so it’s all for a great cause.”

Quinonez said the inaugural event last year drew about 800 attendees and raised about $8,900.

“Our first year was a true success,” Quinonez said. “We’re hoping to get the same turnout this time around, if not better.”

Although the event is scheduled for three hours, attendees are not required to complete a specific distance.

“Some people walk for a mile; others walk for 30 minutes. It’s up to them,” Quinonez said. “It’s more of a fun community activity, and at the same time, we’re hoping to kick up those healthy habits.”

Vendors, such as Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, McDonald’s and Sam’s Club, are set to donate a portion of their proceeds from the event to the foundation, Quinonez added.

“We don’t have a budget,” he said. “Everything we do is through donations, and all the proceeds will be donated to the organization.”

Ries Elementary School opened in 2005 and has more than 1,000 students enrolled.

“We want our students to grow up to be productive citizens that support our community,” Quinonez said. “Out of all our students, we hope to impact at least a few that will make a difference as they grow up.”

The event is free, and registration is not required. Donations will be accepted the day of the event. For more information, call 702-799-1240 or visit

Contact Southwest View reporter Caitlyn Belcher at or 702-383-0403.