Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

May 4, 2014

Altamont students raise money for cancer research

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — Despite not having known Linzi Rector, Altamont High School senior Renee Tillman felt she had a connection to her.

“When I first came in as a freshman, I was a track athlete and Linzi had the high jump record,” Tillman said. “I always wanted to beat her. When she passed away last year, I wanted to do something for her.”

The 27-year-old Rector lost her year-and-a-half-long battle with melanoma in February 2013.

As treasurer, Tillman worked with student council for months to do just that. Finally, the 5K Run/Walk was held at Altamont High School last week in Linzi Rector’s honor. The event raised money for the Melanoma Foundation, a group Rector had supported.

“I don’t know if you can describe the feeling we felt that day,” said Student Council adviser Teresa Lee. “It was just giving back to the community and doing something for someone and expecting nothing in return. It was just what we wanted to do.”

There were still some challenges along the way. Tillman said it was the first time she or any members of the student council had worked to organize such an event, but the community was supportive. More than 300 people registered to participate and nearly $6,000 was raised, with donations still rolling in.

“For a first-time event we were pretty pleased,” Lee said. “We were hoping for maybe 200 people.”

Cathy Rector, Lynzi’s mother, participated in the run and said seeing a community gather for her daughter was a powerful reminder of the care Altamont had for her child.

”We were so appreciative of the high school and the students for what they did to honor her,” Rector said. “It was very emotional. You just felt Linzi’s spirit with us that day.”

Lee said working with students and the community for a good cause was a rewarding experience for all involved.

”I think stepping outside your comfort zone to do something for someone else is amazing,” she said. “You can’t describe the feelings of gratitude from people.”