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Senior survivor competition for a cause

Update: 6:00 pm, 5/9/14, Friday RANTOUL -- Students at Rantoul High School are finally free after spending the last week inside their school.
Update: 6:00 pm, 5/9/14, Friday
RANTOUL -- Students at Rantoul High School are finally free after spending the last week inside their school. While they were there all day and all night, they were raising money for people in Gifford. It was for a competition called Senior Survivor.

The students went without some of the essentials all week long, like beds and home-cooked meals. They played games to win money. All together, they raised more than $6,000 for the tornado-ravaged town.

The winner raised more than $2,000 herself. She plans on spending more time in Gifford this summer helping neighbors there rebuild.
Original: 10:35 pm, 5/5/14, Monday
RANTOUL -- Around this time of year, most kids are itching to get out of class. But some students are competing to stay in school as long as they can. Out of about 200 seniors at Rantoul Township High, only ten of them got picked for this week's challenge. But in this competition, their whole community can win.

The hallways at Rantoul Township High are usually empty at night. But not this week.

"It's the first night so you never know what's really going to happen," said senior Maddi Etheridge.

They're doing Senior Survivor. That means they'll spend all day and all night at school...all week long.

"I've heard there's showers with no hot water," said senior Alex Vermillion.

It wouldn't be survivor without some sacrifices.

"Being without my cellphone because I don't get to talk to friends or my mom or anything," said Etheridge.

Throughout the week, more challenges come up, like finding fire, making shelter and getting enough food to eat.

"I just got done with baseball and we just got a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that we had to make blindfolded and that's not quite enough food for me," said Vermillion.

This week will be hard, but these students are doing it all for people who have survived something much bigger.

"I live on the edge of Gifford and I have lots of friends in Gifford and I thought this was a great way to support them," said Vermillion.

They're raising money for tornado survivors in ways only high school students would want to.

"They put shaving cream on their faces and the students paid a dollar to throw cheese balls at their face," said senior Lacey Bergeram. "The more money that each student survivor has, the longer they get to stay in the competition."

It's a competition for sure. But students say regardless of who wins, they're happy to help the real survivors who are just a few miles down the road.

Starting Tuesday, students will get voted out based on who has raised the least amount of money. The winner will be announced Friday. Their goal is to raise $3,000 for people in Gifford. To donate, contact the high school. (217) 892 - 2151.
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