Recess recently became more than just fun and games at Mission Crest Elementary School: It was also a battle fought against cancer.

Members of Relay for Life's Team Virginia Bells on Jan. 31 organized group play activities at recess to cap off a month of fundraising for the American Cancer Society.

"There's a few teachers who haven't turned in their money, but so far, we've raised $829," Jessica Butler, team leader for Team Virginia Bells, said later. Each class raised money in ways determined by their teachers.

Team Virginia Bells members organized basketball and hula-hooping competitions open to any Mission Crest students who wanted to participate during recess.

"We could show them that being out there and being healthy can help prevent cancer," Butler said.

The month began with an assembly where team members explained their mission and talked about how kids could lower their risks of later getting cancer. The topic turned out to be one many students were already familiar with:

"I was actually really surprised at the assembly," Butler said. "Almost every kid we came in contact after knew what cancer was and had someone in their life who had cancer."

Butler's team is named after her great aunt, who died a year ago from colon cancer. The team hopes to raise $5,000 for the American Cancer Society this year.

"Luckily, today showed them the more active they are and what they eat can better their odds," she said. "I honestly believe that's what it's going to take: Getting them started in first or second grade to prevent it."

The team's next fundraiser will be a joint one with the Hesperia IHOP and Juice It Up restaurants on Friday. For more information on Team Virginia Bells' cancer-fighting efforts, visit or