Two years ago, the Student Government Association at Francis Scott Key High School came up with a fundraising idea that has bumped and spiked its way into an annual tradition.
The third annual charity volleyball tournament, "Spike Out Sarcoma" will be held on Saturday, Feb. 18, at the school.
The tournament features two divisions, A and B, to allow players with all different skill levels — from beginner to pro — to participate and take on the challenge of raising awareness of sarcoma. Teams of 6 to 10 players can be boys, girls or co-ed.
Sarcoma is a rare type of cancer that creates malignant tumors in bone or soft tissues. It is a cancer that is near and dear to SGA members because Nora Murray, the county's SGA advisor, was diagnosed with it three years ago.
"The kids really like to do this for her," said Jennifer Gosselin, co-advisor of the SGA at Francis Scott Key.
Members of the Francis Scott Key SGA are the organizers of the event, which involves organizing the day's activities, soliciting business sponsors, promoting the event and creating T-shirts that spread the message of sarcoma awareness.
The tournament has won an award at the Maryland Association of Student Councils convention in Ocean City for most creative fundraiser, and has raised more than $1,000 in the past.
Most importantly, it raises awareness of a cancer that affects only 1 percent of the population, according to Murray.
"Not a lot of funding goes into this," Murray said. "It is a rare disease. This (fundraiser) is increasing awareness. There are other people in Carroll County that have been diagnosed with sarcoma."
Murray herself was misdiagnosed for two years before a tumor was discovered in her abdomen.
"It was by accident that they found it," Murray said, of the tumor. "I had a test for my gallbladder and I really had a mass."
The tumor had been probably growing for 10 years, Murray said.
Between its removal, other surgeries, including one that removed a growth from her lung, Murray missed almost two years of work total, she said.
"I'm still trying to battle the nasty beast," she said. "You get by every day because you have the opportunity to put your feet on the ground every day."
Part of what keeps her going is her job, and the support it provides.
"I love my job," Murray said. "It's what keeps me going, the kids and the energy. It helps me go on."
While the tournament has that serious purpose, it's also celebration of team spirit and a chance for students from around the county to gather for a good cause.
"It is a relaxed atmosphere," Gosselin said. "It's all for a charity and fun."
Spike Out Sarcoma will be held on Feb. 18 beginning at 9 a.m. at Francis Scot Key High School, 3825 Bark Hill Road, Union Bridge. Spectators are welcome, and there will be a concession stand open all day. Teams can register the day of the event, but pre-registration is preferred to allow organizers to make up the brackets. For team registration and other details, contact Becky Bachtel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-751-3320.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun