Muscatine High School raises nearly $20,000 during Senior Survivor week
MUSCATINE – Last week, Muscatine High School wrapped up its annual Senior Survivor event. Having raised nearly $20,000 for charity this year, the event remains a strongly celebrated tradition for those who are willing to take on physical, mental and community challenges for the sake of a good cause.
This year, students Lanie Weikert and Tess Santaniello took home first place at the end of Senior Survivor Week, and managed to raise $2,748 for the Salvation Army of Muscatine County.
“(Winning) felt pretty good, especially since I think we’re the first all-girl team ever to win it,” Weikert said. Initially, she was with a male partner, but he was unable to compete. “Thankfully, (Santaniello) was willing to step in for me, and I don’t think I would have had it any other way just because we’ve known each other since kindergarten. I think we really pushed each other throughout the week.”
Other participants included Aubrey Haney and Luke Hardy, who raised $6,374 for Micaela’s Hope, Madalena Gomes and Daniel Adams, who raised $3,630 for MCSA, Taya Melendez and Laura Eads, who raised $3,707 for the University of Northern Iowa Dance Marathon, and Gabriel Salazar and Kaylee Hayes, who raised $306.19 for the United Way of Muscatine’s Kids First Fund.
“These kids all did amazing. We’re just really proud of them for all their hard work,” Rebecca Huot, MHS Student Council advisor said.
During the Senior Survivor week, participating students had to compete in various challenges throughout the day while still going to all of their classes, participate in a larger community challenge in the evening, and sleep inside the school at night. Further adding to the week-long challenge was the lack of sleep and the requirement of eating dried, packaged MRE’s (Meals Ready-to-Eat).
When asked about why she wanted to participate, Haney said, “I think I’ve always known that I wanted to do (Senior Survivor). I think it’s a great way to give back to the community, and it’s just a really good opportunity that I knew I didn’t want to pass up on.” She added that it was one of the best weeks out of her entire senior year.
Weikert felt similarly, saying, “I think that it’s something that the high school has put on for so long now, it’s just kind of something that completes your senior year. Personally, I don’t think I would trade this experience for anything.”
“It was one of my favorite weeks from my exchange year,” said Gomes, who is a foreign exchange student from Portugal. “We all got closer, and sometimes not in the best way. Sometimes we were screaming at each other and getting mad, and sometimes we were laughing.”
As for Melendez, her reason for competing came from a personal place as someone who was diagnosed by leukemia at a year old, and who was helped by both the community and her charity of choice, Dance Marathon. She also wanted to follow in her siblings’ footsteps, who also used the event to help raise money for Dance Marathon.
“Growing up, the community has always given back to my family and I,” she said. “I’ve been cancer free for a while now, and getting a chance to give back to this organization that I’ve been involved with for 17 years has been the best feeling in the world.”
After such a positive experience, the Senior Survivors unanimously encouraged any students who may be thinking about participating in the future to do so with a positive mindset.
“Just go for it,” Salazar said. “With my group in particular, (Hayes) was my partner and we are not that athletic. So this was an interesting experience for us. Most kids are afraid because they think that they’re never going to be able to do all the physical challenges, but in reality anyone can do it if you really try, and at the end of the day it’s always for a good cause.”
“Being with all the teams has been super fun, but also the way the week and challenges are supposed to push you has really made me realize personally how grateful I am, how I should take nothing for granted, and just how fortunate I am,” Weikert added.
“Don’t do it just for yourself but do it for others,” Melendez said, seeing it as a great way to show support to local charity organizations. “Even though the week is hard, you get through it and you make life-long friends out of it.”