Hills collecting for pediatric cancer research

MINGO JUNCTION — Students at Hills Elementary School are once again banding together to raise funds for pediatric cancer research.

In observance of Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month for September, the school is conducting a week-long “Caps for Kids with Cancer” campaign this week to benefit the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Cancer Research facility. Students may donate $1 or more to wear a hat each day, and the schedule includes crazy hats this past Monday, toboggans on Tuesday, bandannas today, favorite hats on Thursday and sports teams’ hats on Friday. To put some extra “fun” into fundraising, a Pittsburgh Pirates basket has been added with two tickets to attend a game during the 2018 season plus team shirts in adult and child sizes. The raffle tickets will be sold each day for $1 with the drawing to be held Friday. Meanwhile, popsicles will be sold for 50 cents during recess Thursday to further benefit the cause.

The subject touches very close to home since three students at the school have battled the disease. Organizer Ginny Pawelczyk, a third-grade teacher at Hills, faced a crisis after her son David was diagnosed as a baby. His condition was discovered at age 7 months and he underwent three rounds of chemotherapy and 31 radiation treatments before his first birthday. The radiation caused secondary illness and issues, some of which David continues to battle today. The event is especially meaningful since David turned eight on Tuesday and remains cancer free.

Pawelczyk has led the campaign for the past four years and even earned honors as a Gold Ribbon Hero from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for her moneymaking efforts, but she noted that more needs to be done. She said pediatric cancer research is grossly underfunded with only 4 percent given by the government toward finding cures. However, there are more than 200 different types of brain cancer alone.

“My goal is to help find a cure for all pediatric cancers and to fund research for treatments that do not cause secondary illness. This is our fourth year Caps for Kids with Cancer campaign. Last year, Hills was one of the top sponsors,” she said.

She hopes to raise as much money as she can and has set a goal of at least $1,000.