By Abigail Houston, Colleen Perks, & Melinda Kolesar
Every year at the West Branch Area Senior High School in Morrisdale, PA, students are asked to design, plan, and implement a Senior Project. When it was our turn to propose a project, we knew that we wanted to do something to make a difference in the field of cancer, specifically because we all have been personally touched by cancer. After our initial meeting, it was clear to all three of us what type of cancer we wanted to focus on.
In the summer of 2010, Abigail’s Uncle William “Wilbur” O’Neill was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Abigail was there while he struggled and valiantly tried to fight this horrible disease. At only 54 years old, Uncle Wilbur, a sweet, caring, loving man, always full of life, lost his battle with cancer six weeks after his diagnosis. He fought until the very end. The twinkle in those Irish eyes will never be forgotten.
After going through such a devastating experience, all three of us, Colleen, Melinda and Abigail, made the decision to dedicate our senior project to raising money to help fight pancreatic cancer. We started our planning at the beginning of our senior year. We decided to put on a dance as a way of raising money for our project. The name we chose was “Dance For A Cure”. We scheduled the dance for Saturday, November 18th, 2011 in the high school gym. We secured a DJ, booked our security, and started making posters.
We pre-sold tickets for the dance and, when selling the tickets, we also had bracelets for sale. We also mailed out letters to individuals and businesses. If a business or individual donated $25 or more, their name would be written on our t-shirts which were to students, parents, teachers, and community members. The actual night of the dance, we sold drinks, pizza, baked goods, and snacks. Businesses and individuals also donated items to be chanced off the night of the event.
We decorated our high school gym with purple and white balloons. Most of the students who were present purchased a t-shirt and wore it in honor of all pancreatic cancer patients. The night was a huge success. Everyone that attended showed so much support and danced the night away for our amazing cause. We could certainly feel that Uncle Wilbur was there looking down on us, smiling upon us with those dimples. We felt blessed that we were able to raise $2,485.65 for the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.