Tuesday, July 23, 2024

St. Catherine Labouré Students Raise $26,535 in MiniTHON, Breaking School’s Record ‘For the Kids’

A revelation “for the kids” brought students, teachers and parents to tears at St. Catherine Labouré School in Harrisburg on Tuesday afternoon, March 12 – and rightly so.

After months of executing plans, inspiring donors and conducting fundraisers, the eighth-grade class completed a successful campaign which raised $26,535.76 for Four Diamonds, an organization that assists families battling pediatric cancer.

This year’s grand total is a new school record for St. Catherine’s, which has been conducting a MiniTHON for the past 11 years. Annually, the effort is led by the school’s Student Council and other members of the eighth-grade class.

This year’s project was a personal endeavor for eighth-grader Isabelle Malesic, whose cousin Becca was a Four Diamonds kid after her leukemia diagnosis in 2019.

Isabelle wiped tears from her eyes and covered her mouth in astonishment when she saw her classmates reveal the total collected from this year’s MiniTHON, each one holding up a number as the entire student body screamed with delight.

“I didn’t know the final amount until just now. I never thought we’d get close to making a new school record,” she said. “Personally, I’ve always wanted to help make a huge difference and raise a lot of money for Four Diamonds because my cousin went through this and I know how much this helped her. Raising this much money is just amazing.”

Classmate Sophia Giunta was filled with excitement that she couldn’t contain as the grand total was revealed.

“My heart is beating 17,000 miles per hour right now! I feel it beating in my throat! I am so excited to see that number and just thinking about who it will help,” she said.

“Fight Song” for the Kids

The MiniTHON celebration brought the entire school community together, and though they danced and cheered, the students also prayed and learned about Four Diamonds and its impact on families going through the most challenging time of their life.

Jen Knoll, whose daughter Becca was diagnosed with leukemia the summer before entering seventh grade in 2019, shared the sobering facts about childhood cancer and the battles her daughter endured to beat it.

In the United States, more than 16,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year. Fortunately, Becca – now a junior in high school – won her fight with the disease, after more than two years of treatment that included 23 spinal taps, 53 nights in the hospital and 75 oncology clinic visits.

And thanks to Four Diamonds, the Knoll family never had to worry about the financial burden of those treatments.

“Four Diamonds covered every single medical bill throughout Becca’s treatment. That allowed us to focus on Becca and helping her get better,” Knoll said at the assembly. “These wonderful people and acts of generosity reminded us that we are never alone.”

“Becca is a beautiful example of how Four Diamonds and your MiniTHON helps kids who need it the most,” she told the students. “Our family is forever grateful to Four Diamonds and all who support this wonderful organization, including you.”

Bishop Timothy Senior was also on hand for the assembly, and commended the students for their efforts and donations to help young people in need.

“I am so proud of you! I’m proud that you would want to give up your time because you’re concerned about the needs of other children. As your bishop, I couldn’t be more excited to have that as so much a part of the life of your school community,” he told them.

“As a Catholic school, we really make it explicit that we want to live our faith in practical ways, and you’re doing just that with your effort here today,” the bishop said. “This is such a wonderful expression of who you are in Catholic education, and helping others is what it’s all about in living our lives as Catholic Christians.”

The highlight of the event was the reveal of this year’s total, which sets a new record for MiniTHON at St. Catherine’s, surpassing an earlier mark of $24,316. In 11 years of supporting Four Diamonds, the school community has raised more than $143,000. St. Catherine’s is the only Catholic elementary school in the Diocese to take on this effort, which began more than a decade ago after a family at the school benefitted from Four Diamonds following a cancer diagnosis.

Eighth-grade teacher Stephanie Bader praised her students for leading the project and its fundraisers, saying, “It’s been very rewarding to lead them through the yearlong process of service and leadership, and then see the fruits of their efforts today. The eighth graders led all of this, from start to finish.”

Those efforts included a basket raffle for students, which brought in more than $1,000; classroom penny wars, which raised more than $900; collections after weekend Masses, and students’ individual online donor drives.

Principal Jodi Reagan wiped tears from her eyes as she watched the entire student body perform a dance routine to the pop hit “Fight Song.” In the closing moments, eighth-graders revealed the grand total near the song’s culminating lyrics, “I can make an explosion.”

It was a climax that ushered in a series of cheers, tears and embraces among students and faculty.

“This is so overwhelming!” Regan shouted over the commotion. “The students’ willingness to step up and provide service where it’s needed, when it’s needed is absolutely amazing. That’s what we instill in them, that as Catholic school students, service is something we’re called to do.”

(Photos by Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness.)

By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness

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