A girl of young body and mind crumples to the ground. The ring of peers around her release giggles, ebullient and innocent. The girl wishes to join in their laughter over her wayward feet, but her voice is constrained by a tightness inside her. Her contorted face hushes the escaped giggles. It was neither the fall nor the childish teasing which troubled her. It was the traitorous pain penetrating deep in her bones. It was the unrelenting spin her eyes gave the world. It was the betrayal of bone marrow in producing improper white blood cells. The formation and presence of a virulent internal disaster. The unwelcome introduction to a close death; leukemia. When the jolly subsided and alarm appeared, the soft faces turned toward inquiring adults. Among them: her parents. Concerned, the parents approached the confirming nods of doctors, and they showered her in love and joy and tears and hope as the grueling war against cancer was fought by another family. Despite prayer and medical expertise, a grim fate became ever the nearer. But she lived. Resilience is a quality not easily stripped in survival, and survive she did. A consolidation of this resilience and dynamic treatment eradicated leukemia from her gentle body. Though hardened in spirit, she resumes the innocence of childhood.
Stories as this one are found among survivors of all cancers, but it is leukemia that often afflicts younger populations. It is a struggle that no child should have to die from or live through, but until total harmony blankets the world, cancer must be fought. All must come together, whether cancer scarred or not, in order to expunge cancer from the world. It begins with research and furthered by treatment, both inching closer to the dream of a world free of the plights of cancer. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is facilitating this process.
Seminole County Public Schools have supported the coalition between the non-profit Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Olive Garden—specifically their fundraiser program Pasta for Pennies—for nearly 15 years. Every level of education participates in the program. It is commendable that SCPS lends its resources to the betterment of all mankind as well as some of its own students that suffer from the cancers. However, elementary and middle schools far outweigh high schools in terms of money raised. Last year, Lake Howell raised 600 dollars. While this money surely went to good use in aiding more stories like the one told above, a school of 2000+ should have raised far more. If each person gave a dollar, Lake Howell could nearly triple the donation from last year. A feast from Olive Garden is provided to the 7th period class that raises the most money, and National Honor Society promises purchasable items that add to the donation total. But money should not be spent in lust of food and bracelets. It should not be spent at all. Students should be willing to give mere pocket change for the simple intent of helping the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society achieve humanity’s collective dream.
Money raised from Pasta for Pennies goes toward the numerous tasks and responsibilities the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has undertaken. First, the money goes toward research. To defeat an enemy, one must know the enemy, and no enemy is more elusive than cancer. The money is also importantly spent providing co-payment for families troubled by cancer (travel and medical expenses). Additionally, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society provides families with information following a diagnosis. The LLS also advocates on behalf of cancer patients by spreading testimonies and calls to action.
With all the good that the LLS does, in addition to the Olive Garden food party and other incentives provided by National Honor Society, the Pasta for Pennies fundraiser is a fantastic method of precluding cancer and saving lives. The LLS, SCPS, and NHS all urge Silver Hawks to participate in this year like never before to show their compassion and to keep cancer patients everywhere Hawk Strong.
By Ryan Hill