Becoming Marisa's Angels
Neuroblastoma is a disease in which cancer cells form in the nerve tissues of the adrenal gland, neck, chest or spinal cord. Opsoclonus-myoclonus-ataxia is a paraneoplastic neurologic syndrome affecting 2-3 percent of children with neuroblastoma.
In our very own community, 2-year-old Marisa Shelton, daughter of Kirk Shelton and Anne Shelton, was diagnosed with both neuroblastoma and opsoclonus-myoclonus-ataxia syndrome.
Shannon Martin, a senior at Lindhurst High School and Marisa's older sister, has organized a benefit banquet, dubbed Marisa's Angels, to raise funds to help pay the high cost of Marisa's hospital visits, which weigh on her parents' shoulders. Tickets to the banquet included a dinner and activities.
The banquet was announced in the LHS school bulletin. Marisa's Angels has various contributors, including the Interact Club members of LHS who played a large role in making this dinner happen.
"The Interact Club's motto is 'Service beyond self,' and many LHS students want to help their community and other people," said Kimo Kupser, a social studies teacher at LHS and the Interact Club adviser.
"What better way than to help a family of our own that has been put through the trauma of having a child diagnosed with cancer. Our students wanted to help in any way they could: donating food, cooking, cleaning, selling tickets and, of course, donating their time. The event was a great success, and our kids are proud that their efforts brought great happiness to a family that was in need of some joy. The Interact Club really represents what Lindhurst is all about and the selflessness of our students," Kupser said.
Other clubs, like the Coalition of Advanced Placement Students Club, which provided butter braids for dessert, played a part, too. Even our local grocery stores, such as Grocery Outlet, stepped in to support Marisa by donating a significant portion of the food that was served. Everyone's generous donations ensured the sufficiency of food offered.
On the morning of the event, held Nov. 19, turkeys, pumpkin pies, rolls of bread and many of our favorite Thanksgiving dishes were prepared with the help of numerous Interact Club members.
"I felt great about myself and accomplished when I helped at the dinner," said Phong Xiong, a senior at LHS and an Interact Club member-volunteer. "It is always a great feeling knowing that I did something good for a friend and for a good cause."
During that event, there was a variety of items to bid on. There were many pieces of art kindly donated by LHS art students, as well as goodie baskets given by the various departments at LHS. In addition to the auction, there was singing and music to liven up the night.
By the end of the dinner, Marisa's family took home $2,000 to knock over a few hospital bills. This event beautifully illustrates how our community can come together to help out a family in a time of need.
We all hope for the best for Marisa and hope her holidays are filled with good health and happiness.
Jamie Yang is a senior at Lindhurst High School. Her column appears every six weeks in Education.