By Tim Kalinowski
Seven Persons School Grade 5/6s are showing their support to one local woman dealing with cancer by wearing their hearts on their sleeves. The class is hoping to sell 1000 custom designed t-shirts by the end of the school year to support the Tanya Ellis family. Much of the proceeds will help the family pay for things like gas to get to Calgary for treatment.
Grade 5/6 teacher Mrs. Dola explains.
“One of my student’s moms, Tanya Ellis, was diagnosed with cancer in December. She is a really big parent helper and a good influence around the school. She was an E.A. in my class last year and she was the one who spearheaded the funding drive for the playground. She has been so helpful to our school and the students all know her.
“As we started talking about it with the other kids in class, it kind of dawned on me there is a lot of cancer in this class. Of the 19 students six of them have had a parent go through cancer treatment.”
There are two types of t-shirts on offer: One with a specific message intending to support Ellis and another more general one for anyone dealing with cancer.
Mrs. Dola credits Tanya Ellis with the idea of expanding the campaign to support organizations other than herself.
“When I talked to Tanya about it she just didn’t want it to be about her so we decided to see what else we could do with the money raised. The kids thought it would be cool to support the Make A Wish Foundation, and they specifically want the money to go to a child that has cancer in our area. And also Hope for Haiti: These kids love to do art, they would have art every period if we let them, and so it was a natural tie-in because the project we are supporting is trying to build an art room for a school.”
Trigger Ellis, Tanya’s son, is one of the students in Mrs. Dola’s class helping with the 1000 t-shirt campaign. He says it helps him feel like he and the other students are doing something to help.
“I felt excited we could do something to get our mind off it and try to do something about it,” says Trigger. “My mom felt pretty excited. She said it was like a feeling she never felt before. Like it was full of love and that sort of thing. So this is making her feel good.”
Evie Neubauer is another student in the class who has dealt with cancer at home after her dad Mark was diagnosed with the disease last year. She said before the class began talking about their own situations this year she felt like she was the only who had gone through it. She feels good to be able to do something to help others going through what her family went through.
“It makes me feel really good that we are helping by selling these t-shirts,” says Evie. “It makes me feel really good. When I see people wearing our shirt around it makes me feel so proud we are doing this. I want people to know that cancer can be sad, and it can be deadly, but there is hope still in cancer. And my dad didn’t die. Tanya hasn’t died. So not all cancers are bad that way.”
Trigger says there is something everybody in the area can do to support his family and others.
“If you buy a t-shirt some of the money will go to help our family with expenses, Hope for Haiti and the Make A Wish Foundation for a child that has cancer. It’s a good cause. Buy a t-shirt!”
The t-shirts cans be purchased online through the Seven Persons school website or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Adult shirts are $40 and student ones are $25. The first order will be processed on March 10 with two other orders to follow; one in April and one in May.