- Associated Press - Monday, May 12, 2014

HOWELL, Mich. (AP) - Those who took part this year’s Senior Survivor charity fundraiser at Howell High School said it was a lot of fun.

That is, if your idea of fun includes sleeping night after night on a hardwood floor, eating ice cream topped with hot cheese sauce and pleading every lunch hour with classmates for those extra dollars that will keep you in the game, according to the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus ( http://bit.ly/1juKFlt ).

“It’s a challenge, that’s for sure,” said Andrea Brady, a faculty adviser to this year’s 14 contestants, all graduates-to-be.

Based on the TV reality show “Survivor,” this year’s charity competition raised $27,039 for the Rainbow Connection to support its work granting wishes on behalf of children with life-threatening or terminal illnesses. Founded in 2008, Senior Survivor has now raised more than $68,000 for a variety of charities, with this year’s total the biggest to date.

Zach Noonan stood alone as the final survivor, but all contestants had a role in the fundraising, which occurred throughout the past month.

With a face painted like a junior member of the band Kiss, Noonan made sure he stood out from the pack in passing around his collection bucket.

“I just love to entertain people,” he said.

Competitors are selected in a random drawing, and each must carry at least a 2.0 grade-point average.

Each competitor wore a specially designed T-shirt and sold copies to augment his or her fundraising.

Each also displayed a large banner just inside the school’s main entrance, with the banner’s serving as the tribal council equivalent to the “Survivor” tiki torches.

Those who brought in each day’s lowest donation totals were given the chance to stay alive during various immunity challenges.

The cheese-topped ice cream wasn’t even the worst of it.

“They took some T-shirts, got them wet and put them in the refrigerator all day,” Noonan said. “You didn’t want to have to wear one of those.”

Those who didn’t survive had to roll up their banners and leave.

Survivors, meanwhile, were locked inside the school each night, sleeping on the gym floor.

“It’s not a Tempur-Pedic bed, I’ll tell you that,” Vanessa Swain said.

“Then, there was the water balloons they threw at me,” she added with an eye toward some still-giggling male rivals.

Brady, a math teacher, and Principal Jason Schrock were among the adult chaperones who also took all-night turns in the gym.

“We have at least one male and one female each night,” Brady said.

As part of the competition, the students must surrender their cellphones and keys.

“No phones,” went up a collective groan from survivors when asked their biggest sacrifice.

This year, for the first time, competitors were also accompanied by Howell alumni during the first night of the challenge.

Begun to create a memorial scholarship for Mackenzie Watts, a Howell student athlete who died in 2005, the event has been expanded to support a number of charitable organizations.

“Each year, a different charity is picked,” Brady said.

Other charitable organizations receiving Senior Survivor support have included the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, The Connection Youth Services and the Arc of Livingston.

Videos from each day of this year’s competition, as well as previous competitions, can be seen on YouTube by typing in the phrase “HHS Senior Survivor.”


Information from: Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, http://www.livingstondaily.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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