School teacher selected as Honorary Survivor for Relay for Life

Above, District 56 teacher Julie Smith flanked by her son Rylan, left, and daughter Maya. – family photo  

by Tina Johansson

A local school teacher will be the Honorary Survivor at this years Relay for Life Gurnee/Wadsworth event held July 9 at Warren-Township High School.

Julie Smith, longtime Gurnee resident and 4th grade teacher at Prairie Trail School on Wadsworth Road will be at the head of the line while survivors embark on their walk at high school’s Almond Road Campus track Saturday.

Smith is two-year cancer survivor, according to Diane Bliese, a survivor co-chair, for the event. Smith’s family will be recognized as Honorary Caregivers.

“Julie was nominated to be honored at this years Relay For Life by her friends and family,” said Bliese. “She has fought an aggressive form of Breast cancer with a great deal of courage and determination. Her positive attitude helped her get through each day.  Julie is going to acknowledge and thank her family by honoring them at the Relay. They have encouraged and supported her along her journey.”

“Relay for Life is a great community event where we can all come together to make a difference in the fight against cancer,” said Kelly Stanbary, chairman of the Gurnee/Wadsworth Relay for Life event. “This year we are excited to celebrate reaching $2 million raised since the Relay for Life Gurnee/Wadsworth event began.”  The event began in 2003.

A past Relay for Life event. - Relay for Life photo
A past Relay for Life event. – Relay for Life Gurnee/Wadsworth photo

Stanbary went on to explain the funds have helped the American Cancer Society provide countless services to local cancer patients and their families and to fund lifesaving research. “We’re so proud of the dedication of our participants and their continued determination to make an impact,” she said.

“Our community is creating a world with less cancer and more birthdays,” said Noreen Reese, a Relay volunteer who also works for the Warren-Newport Library.

For those wishing to participate in the event, it is easy: Start a team of your own, or join an existing team online.

Donations are also accepted online at or .

Relay for Life will take place Saturday July 9, from 4 p.m. to midnight at Warren Township High School, Almond Campus Track, 34090 N. Almond Road, Gurnee. The school is located located between Washington and Gages Lake roads.

  • 4 p.m. – opening ceremony followed by the survivor and caregiver laps
  • 9:30 p.m. – Luminaria ceremony
  • 11:45 p.m. – closing ceremony

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