Photo by Erica Techo.
Chelsea High School students presented checks to aTeam Ministries and Children’s Hospital.
Chelsea High School students chose to “Go Gold” for the month of September. Through a fundraiser led by Chelsea High School’s peer helpers, students raised $4,000 to benefit pediatric cancer research and awareness. During a “Go Gold” pep rally on Friday, Sept. 30, peer helpers presented a $2,000 check to aTeam Ministries and a $2,000 check to Children’s Hospital.
Katie Jennings, president of peer helpers, said their group wanted to raise money for pediatric cancer after seeing one of their classmates and a teacher’s child diagnosed.
“We decided because it was something we were passionate about, that we wanted to help,” Jennings said to an auditorium full of students.
Ally Nelson, now a junior at Chelsea High School, is a two-time survivor of cancer. Kenna Parramore, daughter of Chelsea High School English teacher Kelli Parramore, was diagnosed with leukemia at age 2. Both girls appeared in a video created by peer helper Pat Marshall, which encouraged everyone to “Be Bold, Go Gold.”
“We wanted to do something to benefit Go Gold because we have two of our own that have been through that [cancer],” said Sid Ridgeway, community service chair for peer helpers.
After coming up with the idea of selling “Go Gold” T-shirts to support their fundraiser, Ridgeway said they received a lot of community support.
“With the help of the community, we exceeded our goal by a lot,” he said. “I looked at the final [number], and it was crazy.”
The event included a performance from Chelsea’s Out of the Blue show choir, which sang two songs — one that centered on a theme of peace and one that centered on a theme of courage. Guest speakers at the event included Christina Nelson, Ally Nelson’s mother, and aTeam Ministries co-founder and president Andy Thrower.
Nelson said when they took her daughter in for an MRI because she had been limping, they did not expect the diagnosis would be cancer. While her husband is normally the “protector” of the family while she is the “nurturer,” Nelson said she had to take on the protector role after they heard Ally’s diagnosis.
“That peace that God can only give you came over me,” she said.
Seeing the support from students and knowing they are giving back to deserving organizations such as aTeam Ministries is powerful, Nelson added.
“I want to thank the peer helpers because you have no idea what you’re doing,” she said. “I don’t think you know the magnitude of how amazing this is. … Childhood cancer awareness month is just a month, but for me, it’s never going to end. Because as long as I’m breathing, I’m going to make sure I raise awareness.”
Thrower also thanked the peer helpers and students for their help. His son was diagnosed with leukemia in 2009 at 16 months old. He is now a third-grader, and following their son’s diagnosis, Thrower said their family took the opportunity to minister to other families and assist them emotionally, spiritually and financially when possible.
“Pediatric cancer isn’t something you get an antibiotic for,” he said. “ … That doesn’t necessarily happen in the world of pediatric cancer, so it’s a lifelong journey that goes throughout the child’s life, throughout the parent’s life, throughout the extended family.”
By wearing the T-shirts to support the Go Gold initiative, Thrower said every student was helping make an impact.
“One of the greatest ways you can honor a cancer family or a physician who spends and dedicates their lives, or a nurse in pediatric cancer, is raise awareness,” he said.