Updated April 11, 2013 18:02
Final donations have been recieved and this year’s Harker’s Annual Cancer Walk raised $8,105.45, over twice the amount estimated! “This will give many young cancer patients a fantastic opportunity to go to camp!” said Cindy Ellis, middle school head. “I know they will also enjoy the many decorated Frisbees from the middle school students while at camp. Thank you all for your support—it was a glorious day—as always!”
April 11, 2013 9:08
Students, faculty and family members recently put on their walking shoes for the seventh annual Harker Cancer Walk. The successful schoolwide effort netted over $4,000 for Camp Okizu, with donations still flowing in after the event.
For more than 30 years Camp Okizu, located in the Berry Creek area in the Sierra Foothills, has provided peer support, respite, mentoring and recreational programs for families affected by childhood cancer.
Mirroring a residential camp experience, Okizu provides a safe place for young cancer patients to enjoy such regular childhood pastimes as swimming, boating, archery and a ropes course, in addition to social events. The name Okizu (oak-eye-zoo) comes from the Sioux language and means unity.
Uniting the entire Harker community together while raising cancer awareness, the symbolic stroll was held on the morning of March 29 on the Blackford campus field. Ribbons were worn by participants and music played for the duration of the walk. Supplementing direct donations were a large amount of T-shirts, water bottles, Jamba Juice, baked goodies, temporary tattoos and wrist bands which were sold by volunteers.
Cindy Ellis, middle school head, reported that advisories had been busy decorating the “biggest cancer walk poster ever” for this year’s event. The result of the collaborative efforts of the entire middle school, it hung on the amphitheater wall from March 25-29 and stood eight feet high. Advisories also made small, honorary flags for those who have survived or passed away from cancer, which were then placed on the ground along the walking path.
“It is sometimes hard to explain why the Cancer Walk is so meaningful. I personally feel it is because it blossomed from the heart. How rare and wonderful it is to have the opportunity to stop, walk, share with friends and help out others. The gift, ultimately, is for Okizu and all of us!” said Ellis who helped launch the event with Michael Schmidt.
Schmidt, who teaches middle school computer science, had the idea for the walk back in 2007 following the passing of his mother due to cancer the previous year. “The weather was beautiful and I saw so many smiling faces!” he said. “I am so happy to help the children who will now be able to attend Camp Okizu as a result of all of our collective efforts. This event really shows the wonderful heart and spirit of our entire community, including faculty, staff, parents and students. You are all amazing.” Schmidt said he could never have originally predicted how much the efforts of the Cancer Walk would resonate across all three of Harker’s campuses.
“There were all too many people with a connection, and they too wanted to join in the celebration, the commemoration for someone close to them. The Cancer Walk is truly an effort of the community that I have grown to cherish at Harker,” he added. “Thank you again for our SEVENTH amazing Cancer Walk.”