Spook houses and ghost stories, hauntings and horror movies. For many people, seeking out a scare on Halloween is as much a tradition as carving pumpkins, putting on a costume or trick-or-treating.
One local high school senior has made it his mission to scare the life out of Halloween thrill-seekers, all to help save the lives of the kids at St. Jude.
Metamora Township High School senior Ryan Russell is the mastermind behind “Haunting4St.Jude”. Russell has transformed his Germantown Hills garage into a full-blown haunted house for three bone-chilling nights.
Raising money locally for childhood cancer is a cause close to his heart. He knows many people in Woodford County who have benefitted from the services of the St. Jude, and he felt the calling to help out in a frightfully fun way.
“Being close with one of the families affected by St. Jude, I know how great of an organization and hospital it is. I also know how important it is to central Illinois,” said Russell. “Therefore, I thought I could run a haunted house to give the community a fun time and at the same time, raise money for St. Jude.”
Russell first conjured up the idea of a Halloween haunt two years ago. He held the event for the first time in 2019. In two nights, it raised $1,700.
After having to take a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Russell has set his sights higher for this year. He is extending the haunted house to three nights, and hopes to raise $3,000.
All money raised will be given directly to the St. Jude Midwest Affiliate Hospital in Peoria.
Russell has acquired a growing list of area businesses that are sponsoring this event, and of course, he couldn’t pull it off without the help of some fellow ghouls and goblins.
Russell has more than 45 volunteers who assist him, 40 of which are MTHS students.
They all will be dressed to scare at the haunt, which takes place at 401 Windsor Drive in Germantown Hills. The event will run from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on October 29, 30 and 31.
The admission is $5 per person for one-time entrance or $10 per person for a wristband and unlimited access.
The haunt is for all ages. For the younger visitors who may scare more easily, Russell advised parents to let the person at the entrance know, and the actors will tone down the terror.
After all, it is just a little Halloween hocus pocus, to help save lives.
“Come on out and support a great cause while having a bunch of fun and being scared,” said Russell.