Benton Evening News - Benton, IL
  • Zeigler-Royalton H.S. continues war on cancer

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  • They just “keep on keepin’ on.”
    The kids and adults of the Zeigler-Royalton High School Coaches vs. Cancer effort completed 2012 with a national ranking of No. 9 in money raised for the fund that supports cancer research.
    That’s Z-R competing with high schools across the country with almost all of the participating schools having a much larger enrollment than Z-R, of course.
    No. 1 was Central Bucks High School system in Pennsylvania with three campuses comprising over 5,000 kids.
    Zeigler-Royalton’s collection from last year was $16,500, making their three-year total $38,000.
    This leads all schools in the state of Illinois. Impressive, but just another brick in the huge wall the school is trying to build in its personal fight against a disease that has impacted their community and many others in very personal ways.
    Motivated by cancer deaths in their own fathers, residents Matt Morgan and Randall Risley began the initiative and, with the help of many volunteers, namely the unselfish students and adults in the community, performed at a level that has amazed professionals in the regional and national cancer-fighting campaigns.
    Matt is now a special education teacher and the head boys basketball coach at Z-R and Risley serves as coordinator of Zeigler-Royalton Coaches vs. Cancer.
    Both are excited about upcoming events to raise money for the current year’s effort. The home basketball game against Sesser-Valier on Friday, Feb. 1, will be a Coaches vs. Cancer night with contests and some donation opportunities.
    The following night is the annual Bennie Drust Memorial Alumni game. Local volunteers Brian and Christy Cheatham are directing an evening featuring chicken and dumplings for dinner starting at 4 p.m. with the game and activities following at 6:00.
    This year there are two contests. “Junior Varsity” squads composed of more recent graduates of Z-R will compete first, followed by “more mature” former stars in the varsity game.
    The idea is to protect the youngsters from over-zealous and grouchy older competitors who might combat quickness with unscrupulous tactics.
    Both games should be spirited. “Spirited” also describes the Cheathams, who are again organizing the night’s activities and making sure plans are complete. One nice feature is that for both the Friday, Feb. 1 home game and the alumni games on Saturday, the Zeigler-Royalton Alumni Band will perform, which is a treat in itself.
    At 5 p.m. on Saturday, the three-point shoot-out will start. Open to all comers, the entry fee is $5 and will feature a timed series of shots from different three-point line locations around the basket.
    The young Jr. Cheerleaders will perform at the game and raffles will be held, including a raffle for a recliner to be awarded at a later date. The Zeigler Eagles, whose ladies are preparing the chicken and dumplings, will be open to the public to gather after the alumni game with proceeds going to the cancer drive.
    Page 2 of 2 - The cost for the chicken and dumpling meal is $5 for adults and $3 for kids under twelve. The menu includes salad, mashed potatoes and gravy, drinks, and dessert with soda available for purchase. Tickets for the game are $3 for adults and $2 for students. The volunteer group is looking forward for a good turnout at the event, which is a substantial part of the ongoing cancer effort in the community.
    Other coming events in the campaign include a bowling tourney at the West Frankfort Bowl at 108 East Poplar Street on February 23. Entry forms for the five-man bowling teams are available at the bowling alley, from Randy Risley at or by calling 218-7194.
    The annual “Z-R’s Got Talent” show on March 23 is another highly anticipated event which will again feature local resident Ted Dollins’ amazing chicken soup for supper, followed by an excellent array of talent assembled to entertain guests.
    For Zeigler-Royalton’s crusade against cancer, one could say “the beat goes on,” which is exactly the way the many student and adult volunteers see their efforts.
    Come out and support this nationally recognized program and make the folks who fight this increasingly common enemy very happy.
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