WINNING BATON: Taabinga State School students Maddy Searle and Kinzie Campbell with their winning baton.
WINNING BATON: Taabinga State School students Maddy Searle and Kinzie Campbell with their winning baton. Matt Collins

Emotional story behind Relay's winning baton

SOUTH Burnett Relay for Life brought together hundreds of South Burnett people and raised in excess of $100,000 for cancer research at the weekend.

What made this monumental event possible was the 30-plus hardworking teams who raised money, created fundraising events and walked non-stop throughout the night to keep their baton moving.

One such team was the Taabinga State Primary School crew, who as well as having one of the most popular stands at the event, picked up the award for best baton.

No one could argue the validity of the award-winning baton as it had a significant and emotional backstory.

Year 6 teacher Stephanie Tognola said the baton, which is a combination of a broom, a whistle and the letter T, represented people from the school who had been affected by cancer.

"Our school has been touched so much by cancer, our baton symbolises why we are here," she said.

The broom also represents the school's cleaner, Marissa Reith, who is battling the disease.

"Marissa is a grandmother to four students at Taabinga. We can't wait to have her back at the school," Miss Tognola said.

The much-loved cleaner is in hospital in Toowoomba.

"I spoke to her daughter this morning, she is making a slow but steady recovery," Miss Tognola said.

The whistle on the baton represents the school's physical education teacher, Vicki Hurt, who has undergone cancer treatment and is now back at school.

"Vicki is a much-loved teacher and when she left it really affected the students," Miss Tognola said.

"We are all so happy she has made an amazing recovery."

The oversized letter T on the baton represents Taabinga State School's strong team spirit - which they proved this by raising close to $6000 for the Relay for Life event.

"The Year 6 kids have spent the last two months in their lunch-time making fundraising items," Miss Tognola said.

"They worked at the Nanango markets, sold beads at Mitre 10, sold flowers in the mall and organised free dress days at school."

After aiming to raise $2000, Miss Tognola said she was amazed at their total of $5800, which made them the third-highest fundraising team.

"I am extremely proud of all of them," she said.

"We will have to create a larger goal for next year."