STC Kick-A-Thon kicking stronger than ever; Parillo hits milestone
The amount of money raised Oct. 4 by the 26th Kick-A-Thon at St. Charles East is ...
... to be revealed at a "pack-the-place" basketball doubleheader Dec. 20.
The 78 members of the St. Charles East and St. Charles North dance teams are still finalizing their donations.
St. Charles East dance coach and Kick-A-Thon co-founder Kari Batka believes the final tally will not disappoint.
"The Kick-A-Thon was awesome," she said. "I think it's going to be a very big year because we just had a lot of great efforts by the kids."
Since 1994, when Kick-A-Thon debuted at St. Charles High School as a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society in honor of Rose Drach, who later passed away from sinus cancer, the event has raised more than $1.2 million.
This year's event will benefit the Fox Valley Chapter of the American Cancer Society, LivingWell Cancer Resource Center and Fox Valley Food for Health.
One reason why it's been so successful is personal investment. Many of the girls on the dance teams have had friends, relatives or family members affected by cancer.
Reinforcing the meaning, this year's kickoff breakfast was held at LivingWell in Geneva, Batka said. That's firsthand exposure as to why those donations matter.
A counselor at St. Charles East, Batka was the Saints head dance coach for 13 years then spent the next 13 years serving on the Kick-A-Thon advisory board and being a mom. This year she returned as head coach and Kick-A-Thon host. She said the focus was "to get back to community -- see people and reunite."
In this sense Kick-A-Thon has come full circle. Andrea Leith, coach of St. Charles North's dance team, was on one of Batka's early teams. North Star freshman Alyssa Shanahan, who as of Monday had raised $4,000 -- or 1,000% of the $400 goal -- is the daughter of the former Jennifer Griffin, a St. Charles East graduate.
The 150 "community kickers" stretching the length of Norris Stadium's sideline last Friday all have ties like that.
"It's starting to get to be a part of St. Charles history," Batka said.
The wins of change
Scott Parillo coaches both boys and girls soccer at Kaneland. He doesn't see much difference between the two.
"The boys would say I make them run more," he said.
After 18 years coaching the boys, 16 with the girls, Parillo has learned there are no absolutes.
"There are certain kids that if you kind of get on them a little bit they don't react the same as others. Even with a team every year it can be different, so you have to adjust your coaching style to fit the group of athletes that you have," he said.
"You just have to feel your way around and see how you can get them to focus on the things that you need to be a successful team. And that can change weekly, daily."
On thing is certain. Parillo has had success. He's led Kaneland's boys team to five regional titles and the girls to two regional titles and one sectional title.
On Sept. 19 he won his 200th game with the Knights boys team, 9-0 against Plano. Parillo's got 188 wins on the girls side.
"That only means I've been coaching a really, really, really long time," he said.
That's what they all say. There's always more to it.
Parillo, a 24-year history teacher at Kaneland, has an infectious love for the game.
A 1987 Geneva High School graduate who played with a club team before the Vikings offered interscholastic soccer, he first started playing 45 years ago, when he was 5.
"I really enjoy it, and I think when the kids know you enjoy it, it feeds off that," he said.
"It's been fun, and I've still got a few years left in me. I don't know if I'll make it to 300, but never say never."
Run for your lives
More Kaneland fun -- the Zombie Run.
"Knight of the Zombies -- Pre-Halloween Run for Your Life" staggers off Oct. 14 near Kaneland's softball diamond.
There's a trick-and-treat run for kids from second through fifth grade at 5:20 p.m., but the real fun comes at 6 p.m. for middle school, high school and adult runners navigating a 1.2-mile course while struggling to avoid being captured and eaten.
Seriously, participants tuck flags or streamers into their waist bands and lifelike (or deathlike) "zombies" -- Kaneland cross country runners -- chase them and attempt to steal their streamers. Evasive runners who retain their flags can get ribbons and awards.
Portraying the cannibalistic undead will be Kaneland runners including Austin Adams, Aubrey Broz, Olivia Franklin, Ethan Neal, Daniel Occhipinti and Rachel Richtman and Ethan Walker.
There is an entrance fee -- $5 for kids, $10 for the rest -- registration and a waiver to sign, all of which can be done on-site a half-hour beforehand. Godspeed.