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The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

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National Honor Society BBQs for cancer research

The organization hosted the event on April 19 on Memorial Field.
Survivorship+committee+chairs+Jamie+Sticha+and+Emily+Hanania+introduced+the+guest+speakers.+
Survivorship committee chairs Jamie Sticha and Emily Hanania introduced the guest speakers.

National Honor Society students hosted a Cookout for Cancer on the WCCHS football field on April 19.

The barbecue, which raised money for the American Cancer Society, consisted of guest speakers who told attendees about their personal experiences with cancer, and a set of activities, including games, face painting, and dunking students and faculty into a pool of ice-cold water.

Guest speaker and Board of Education representative Kathe Doremus shared her journey with cancer, and spoke about the significance of spreading awareness and advocating for change. She was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2014, and has been undergoing treatment – though is in remission – for the past seven years. It was very emotional and hard for her to speak about her diagnosis at first, but over time, Doremus said, she started to share her story to make a difference.

“It happens somehow it will touch every one of our lives at least once, but whether it’s a family member, whether it’s a close friend, whether it’s our children, whether it’s ourselves, the only way we can make a difference is by making as many people aware and committed to finding cures to cancer,” Doremus said.

She spoke on how change can only happen if communities work together to find cures.

“And the only way you get involved is by knowing about it, and sometimes the only way to know about it is when it touches your own life, and then sometimes it may be too late,” Doremus said.

Doremus also spoke about her son’s good friend, who was also diagnosed with Leukemia, and passed away just one day after graduating from high school. Doremus keeps him in mind as she promotes awareness, noting that the disease can alter lives forever.

A member of the National Honor Society also spoke at the fundraiser, sharing her perspectives on cancer. Senior Gabrielle Christman’s uncle was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, as were several other of her relatives.

“My uncle was diagnosed with semi-noma and another type of cancer in his heart. He was stage four and both [were] caught. These were super rare cancers, and he was one of the only people in the entire world to have these two types of cancers. So, luckily, he’s cancer-free now, and that’s what I talked about today,” Christman said.

Christman has decided to pursue a career in cancer research to make a difference.

Survivorship Chairs Emily Hanania, a junior, and Jamie Sticha, a senior, spoke about the importance of raising money to help find cures for cancer, but also the need to bring people together to make a difference.

“The fundraiser has gotten our school more involved. I feel like a lot of people don’t like to address what’s happening with cancer. It’s just a great thing that we are spreading more awareness and getting people to come out and have fun and also donate for cancer,” Sticha said.

Senior and NHS member Gabrielle Christman also gave a speech about how cancer has impacted her career choice. (Photo by Emily Ziajor)

Attendees were able to purchase burgers, hot dogs, chips, or Kona Ice as part of the cookout; food was barbecued by NHS members Nate Bove and Isaac Hernandez, both seniors, as well as special guest Dr. Will Dwyer, Principal of West Chicago Community High School.

Those who participated were also encouraged to decorate a luminaria bag, which were later filled with glow sticks and placed around the track. All attendees completed a lap around the track in honor of those who have fought cancer.

“The lap was meant to honor those who have passed from or who are battling cancer. We lined the track with luminaria bags, decorated by those in attendance to represent their loved ones, and began at sunset, as done in a traditional luminaria ceremony. A ceremony like this is significant mostly to the families impacted by the disease and commemorates the hardships they have faced,” Hanania said.

The evening ended early, as temperatures started in the 50s, and were dipping lower as the event progressed. However, the Cookout for Cancer’s finale involved a Polar Plunge in which brothers Drew and Jake Voight, both committee chairs for the event, swung participants into a inflatable pool filled with cold water.

Junior Diego Contreras volunteered – or was strongly encouraged by his peers – to take the plunge first, after some debating as to whether to take off his socks or wear them. Ultimately, he kept them on, and after three swings, found himself in the water.

“It’s not that bad,” Contreras said, after emerging from the pool.

Several other participants, including Dwyer, were either swung into the pool by the Voights, pushed in by an NHS member, or hopped into the waters by their own volition.

Although the temperature kept dropping as the sun set, students still did a lap around the track to commemorate the event. (Photo by Emily Ziajor)

“I decided to do the plunge because I know someone who recently lost their mom to cancer, and overall, it was for a good cause. For the plunge itself, it was freezing, and I can’t believe that of all days, it just had to be the coldest one,” senior Jason Wang said.

NHS president then thanked all attendees for supporting the event, and recognized the hard work and efforts of the committee chairs, who also included juniors Jessica Thunberg, Ella Warsaw, Addison Jeffery, and seniors Kevin Dorl, Valerie Harris, Ava Lowell, and Sophia Spinelli. Valliquette also thanked the event’s sponsors, Kindred Coffee Roasters and Kona Ice.

The Cookout for Cancer event was several months in planning, and originally started out as a traditional “Relay for Life” event, as the school has hosted before. National Honor Society adapted the event as it became increasingly difficult to register teams, despite dedicated and consistent effort on the part of the committee chairs.

“I am really happy with the end result because we had a really nice turnout even though our school week was hectic with testing. It was so important for us to see it through because NHS has been wanting to move toward the direction of purely community events without profit. The Cookout for Cancer was a great step in that direction. Hopefully that work will continue next year with the new officers,” Valliquette said.

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Your donation will support the student journalists of West Chicago Community High School. Your contribution will help us cover our annual website hosting costs. We appreciate your support!

About the Contributors
Sami Moesch
Sami Moesch, Senior Reporter
Sami is a sophomore; this is her first year as a reporter for the Chronicle, and she joined because she wanted to try something new. When she is not busy reporting, Sami plays Varsity soccer in the spring at WEGO, and throughout the year with a local club team. When Sami is relaxing, she usually listens to Taylor Swift, but also tunes into other artists such as The Neighborhood, Gracie Abraham, Clairo, and Lana. She passes the time by watching two of her favorite shows “Gilmore Girls” and “Pretty Little Liars”. Her future is uncertain: Sami does not yet know what she wants to do as a career, but keeps her doors open for possibilities.
Emily Ziajor
Emily Ziajor, Multimedia Manager
Emily Ziajor is a WEGO senior in her second year of journalism. She attended the National High School Journalism Convention last November, and thoroughly loved the experience. She is a Polish-American (she finished her final year of Polish School in the spring of 2023) with a creative soul and high aspirations. When it comes to writing, she has a sharp imagination, and one of her true passions is photography. Emily is a multi-year member of the AV Club at West Chicago Community High School.
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