This article originally appeared in the summer 2016 Harker Quarterly.
This past spring, two of Harker’s popular outreach efforts, the middle school’s annual Cancer Walk and the upper school’s Kicks Against Cancer event, raised money for the same cause: Camp Okizu. The 10th annual Harker Cancer Walk raised about $14,000, while Kicks Against Cancer raised $1,500, for a total of $15,500.
The funds from both events benefited Camp Oziku, a nonprofit organization that allows children with cancer to “just be a kid for a week.” Located in the Berry Creek area of the Sierra foothills, Camp Okizu offers a free weeklong summer camp that gives cancer patients and their families a sense of normalcy and stability.
Students, parents, family members, faculty and staff from all four campuses gathered at the middle school field on March 22 for the Cancer Walk. “This time was a bit more special as it was our 10th anniversary celebration walk!” said Michael Schmidt, middle school computer science teacher and department chair.
Schmidt had the idea for the walk following the passing of his own mother due to cancer. “This is an event that Harker was kind enough to let me start in 2007 in honor of loved ones afflicted with cancer,” he continued. “Since then, it has been used as a moment for our entire community to come together and celebrate the lives of those we love and those we’ve lost. It is a symbolic walk that is measured not by the miles covered, but by the love and understanding between us all.”
Prior to the walk, students engaged in various activities to learn about different forms of cancer and cancer prevention strategies. In a further show of support, many teachers displayed door decorations with themes designed to promote cancer awareness.
And during the walk, honor flags – honoring someone who is fighting or has fought cancer – were placed in the ground along the inner edge of the field’s walking path.
Meanwhile, although the upper school’s soccer teams lost this year’s Kicks Against Cancer games to Menlo High School, Harker students were still excited over the real winner of the event – Camp Okizu. The seventh-annual soccer match took place on Feb. 5, with the junior varsity boys, varsity girls and varsity boys playing against their respective Menlo High School teams. The JV boys lost 0-2, the varsity girls lost 0-3 and the varsity boys lost 1-4.
Sparsh Chauhan, grade 10, scored the only goal for Harker during the last game of the night. After the JV boys finished their game, the varsity girls team presented a check for funds raised to four visiting Camp Okizu families. To help raise money for the camp, Kicks Against Cancer onlookers had the opportunity to buy T-shirts and wristbands, make monetary donations and purchase yummy treats at a bake sale.
During halftime of the last game, spectators were given a chance to play “Butts Up” with some faculty members lined up on the goal line. Cheerleaders, meanwhile, performed a special routine. Be sure to check the Harker News website at http://news.harker. org/tag/outreach for more Greater Good stories.