Starting in March, Maine West High School students and staff will begin a two-week fundraising blitz for a cause that hits close to home: brain tumor research.
In the past two years, the school has lost two students to brain tumors, and, recently, a junior girl was diagnosed, as well. In honor and memory of these students, the school chose to donate the proceeds from this year’s fundraising efforts to the American Brain Tumor Association, a Chicago-based nonprofit working to make advancements in brain tumor diagnosis, treatment and care.
For each of the past four school years, Maine West has raised money for worthy causes through school-sponsored events. Last year, the school brought in and donated almost $16,000 for the American Cancer Society. This year, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was set to be the recipient, until students pushed to change the cause to something more personal.
“There was a real groundswell from our students, who wanted to do something for brain tumor research,” said assistant principal Dave Berendt. “So then we put it out to the students and faculty, and we decided as a school.”
Almost all of this year’s events will fall within a two week period from March 1 to March 16, a change from past years when the school would dedicate an entire year to a given cause. Berendt said the school hopes the compressed schedule will keep the Maine West community more involved and focused.
During that timeframe, the school plans to host a March 2 rock concert featuring teacher-composed bands, throw a March 3 carnival and have an in-school “miracle minute” when the school will attempt to raise as much money as possible in 60 seconds through student and teacher donations. In past years, the “miracle minute” has brought in as much as $5,000.
Other events include a chili cook off, a ping pong tournament, a dance, karaoke and a lunch-hour game where students pay to throw pies at teachers’ faces.
Allyson Adams, a counselor at Maine West who is serving in her first year as the school-wide fundraising sponsor, said that, while teachers play a role in event organizing, many of the ideas and much of the work comes from students.
“This is a very student-driven ongoing event,” Adams said. “One of the things about Maine West High School is that we want students to be aware of their community and the people around them, and they certainly are. It takes students to be excited and come to these things to make it happen.”
Past school-sponsored fundraisers have brought in between $15,000 and $30,000.
People looking to donated can do so through Maine West’s page on the American Brain Tumor Association or by contacting Allyson Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org or (847) 803-5763.