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Schwab: ‘Anna’s Allies’ set for Relay walk

Published: Saturday, June 9, 2012 5:33 a.m. CDT

There was little time for organization between Anna Daley’s death on May 8 and the 2012 Relay for Life of Kane County, scheduled for June 22 and 23 at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva,

But even with Daley’s family and friends reeling from the loss of the popular St. Charles East junior, Jordan Griffin and Alex O’Brien knew something ought to be done – quickly.

One dizzying month later, “Anna’s Allies” – the Relay for Life team Griffin and O’Brien launched in Daley’s honor – is the top team for the cancer-fighting fundraiser.

“It was just kind of an idea – I didn’t really think it would go anywhere, but we looked it up, and it all just kind of blew up from there,” Griffin said.

As of Friday, Anna’s Allies raised almost $12,000 for the fundraiser between the money committed through the Relay for Life website and other cash on hand, including money raised at a table set up at St. Charles East High School.

Daley’s parents, Lisa and Sean, posted information about the team on Daley’s CaringBridge website, and O’Brien, Daley’s boyfriend, said the immediate response was staggering. O’Brien and Griffin text messaged each other between periods of the school day while they tracked the remarkable pace of donations.

“I feel great about it because it goes to such a great cause and me personally being affected by cancer so much, this feels like the best way to give back to that cause,” O’Brien said.

Daley was among the top members of the Saints’ girls golf team before being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia just before the start of her junior year. Golf was one of Daley’s major passions, reflected by the presence of her Saints golf bag showcased front-and-center atop the platform at her memorial service at First Baptist Church of Geneva.

Griffin, though, knew Daley from day-to-day school life.

They were chemistry lab partners and sat together at lunch. A member of the Saints’ drill team, Griffin said she performed in the opening ceremonies at past Relay for Life events at the Cougars’ stadium, and thought forming a team in memory of Daley was a natural fit.

Griffin and O’Brien jumped head-first into the detail-heavy team organizing.

They’ve had to turn people away who expressed interest in doing the Relay walk to keep the team size manageable but are deeply appreciative of all donations, which can be accepted even after the Relay itself until Aug. 31.

“As far as adults go, we’ve had a lot of help between my mom, Mrs. Daley and Mr. Daley and a couple other adults guiding us along the way, but mostly it’s been me and Jordan sitting down and putting those things together,” O’Brien said.

Daley’s battle with leukemia galvanized the community throughout, as exhibited by a bone marrow match drive in the fall that yielded a pair of matches for patients in need, which Daley learned about shortly before she died.

Griffin and O’Brien said this latest drive for Relay for Life provided a constructive way to grieve.

They look forward to remembering Daley on Relay night – the event goes from 6 p.m. on June 22 to 6 a.m. the next morning – with many of those who were closest to her.

“I know just for the people on the team, it’s going to be a lot of fun hanging out in our tent, cooking out – that’s going to be great, but I think also with opening ceremonies going on, the survivors doing their walk, it’s going to be very emotional,” Griffin said. “We all have a connection to Anna. Everyone knew her and what a great girl she was.

“It’s going to be fun but it’s going to be serious, too, because we’re going to be honoring her and everyone who is still fighting it.”

• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or jschwab@shawmedia.com.

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