With the theme "Go Gold for Childhood Cancer," the Red Oak Independent School District wrapped up a week's worth of student-led fundraising and awareness events in recognition of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
The highlight of the week, however, was a check presentation to a young philanthropist and Red Oak High School student at last Friday night's football game.
Red Oak High School Student Council members presented a $2,207 check to their peer, Anna Day, 17, to support her organization – Anna's Bake Sale Foundation – which raises funds to support childhood cancer research.
Anna started the foundation when she was about 13 years old after her baby sister Isabella was diagnosed with neuroblastoma — cancer that develops from immature nerve cells found in several areas of the body, usually found in children and young adults.
"Red Oak ISD is honored to support childhood cancer awareness and especially support one of our own students in her effort to raise funds for childhood cancer research," Interim Superintendent Ann Dixon said. "Anna's Bake Sale Foundation is a model example of how one person can make a change and bring awareness to a concern in the community."
Although Anna's foundation mainly raises money through bake sales, the funds presented to her were not from a bake sale. Most of the donations were from students who donated at least $1 for the chance to wear sweatpants to school on Sept. 9.
"Words are not adequate enough to express how much it meant that Red Oak ISD committed to 'going Gold' to raise awareness for childhood cancer," said Tim Day, Anna's father. He is Red Oak ISD's director of special programs.
Friday afternoon's high school pep rally became an awareness event, attended by Anna and her family, student cancer survivors and families of children who lost their battles with the disease.
"It was an amazing moment when students at Red Oak High School honored the students in our district who have battled cancer and even recognized members of family who lost their sibling to cancer," Day said.
Throughout the week, students wore gold clothing to school, including gold wristbands at Friday night's game against Frisco High School.
Just like the pink ribbon that popularly symbolizes breast cancer, the gold ribbon represents all types of childhood cancers. An estimated 15,780 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with cancer every year, according to the American Childhood Cancer Foundation.
To date, Anna's foundation has raised and donated over $40,000 to fund childhood cancer research.
"We are extremely proud of Anna," Day said. "She has seen her sister battle cancer and the lack of funding that goes towards research for childhood cancer. Instead of being bitter and resentful, she has decided to try to make a difference by raising awareness and money that will go towards research."
Anna's Bake Sale Foundation will host its annual bake sale on Sept. 21 at the Chic-fil-A restaurant on 996 W Highway 287 Byp in Waxahachie. For more information, visit annasbakesalefoundation.org.