Lynda Luce believed it was important to make a difference in the lives of others.
Her former students will do just that on Friday, June 21, when they participate in the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life, at Haberkorn Field in Waupaca.
They will walk to remember and honor Luce, their former Waupaca High School communications teacher and forensics coach.
She passed away last Aug. 31 after battling cancer..
“I miss her every day of my life. Anything I can do in memory of her is a fantastic experience,” said Nick Jungers, who will be a senior this fall at WHS.
He is among the 22 people who are on Team Footluce.
“Footluce” was Luce’s email address, and with this year’s theme being “Waupaca Party For A Cure,” it was a fitting name for the team.
In addition to current and former students, Team Footluce includes parents of WHS forensics students and also New London’s forensics coach.
The opening lap of Waupaca’s Relay For Life will take place at 6 p.m. Friday.
The event will include food, theme laps, a silent auction and a prayer tent. The luminaries will be at 9 p.m.
Team Footluce members will be wearing green T-shirts. On the back of their shirts are the words of Luce, “I think we are supposed to make a difference in other people’s lives.”
Green was Luce’s favorite color, and each March, there was an annual “green” forensics tournament, so there was no question what color their T-shirts would be.
Since the theme is to “party for a cure,” the team will be decorating its campsite with a St. Patrick’s Day theme.
There will also be a special lap for Luce. Jungers and Cole Pankratz will talk about Luce, and then the team will dance to the song “Footloose.”
Emily Cummings and Nikky Weise choreographed the dance, and members of the team practiced it in the high school commons on Monday, June 17, in preparation for Friday night.
For many of those on Team Footluce, this is the first time they will be participating in Relay for Life.
Amy Durfee is among them.
She is the captain of the team and said, “The reason I accepted the role was because of Mrs. Luce’s impact on my daughter. She saw a voice in Amanda and then took the time to help her develop it.”
Durfee often tells her daughter to push herself and decided it was time for her to challenge herself by getting involved in Relay For Life as a team captain.
The team’s goal is to raise $1,500.
One member of the team, Courtney Miller, is being creative with raising funds.
She runs the Sno Shack on West Fulton Street and said 50 percent of Friday’s proceeds will go to Relay For Life.
Durfee said, “I want them to have fun but also remember that it’s a fundraiser, too.”
She enjoys watching the students when they get together and seeing their love for Luce.
The idea to form the team was the result of a visit by Michelle Drake, one of the coordinators of the local Relay For Life.
“She came and talked to the student council about setting up a high school team. We decided it would be best if the forensics team took the lead,” said Nancy Cummings, an English teacher at WHS. “The kids are very excited. They actually inspired me to want to continue with the idea of forming a team in Mrs. Luce’s memory.”
She thinks their excitement is a result of what Luce meant to them.
Jungers said he knew Luce his entire life.
“Our families always went camping together,” he said. “I always like to chat the people up around the fire and entertain them. She always said, ‘Nick, you’re going to be one of my forensics kids.'”
When he was a youngster, he did not know what she meant.
She told him, “It’s talking in front of other people. You’ll love it.”
Once Jungers started high school, he said Luce went out of her way to help him improve his forensics skills.
From her, he learned “even in the hard times, you can pull through, especially if you have someone or a group of people supporting your decision. With encouragement from others, anything is possible.”
Kirsten Dahlk will also be a senior this fall at WHS and, like Jungers, has been in forensics since she started high school.
“She was probably the most determined person I knew,” Dahlk said of Luce. “She was always there for me.”
Luce taught Dahlk “to never give up. Just stick out tough times. Wait for it to get better. If it doesn’t, make it better.”
Dahlk feels honored to be a part of Team Footluce.
Luce’s daughter, Kate Greenfield, appreciates how they are honoring her mother.
“She would be proud to see her students doing such aamazing things,” Greenfield said.
Cummings said Luce lived her mantra.
Both of Cummings’ children – Eric and Emily – have been in forensics, and Cummings is thankful for the difference it made in their lives.
“The kids’ excitement,” she said of the team, “is a testament to the impact she made on their lives.”