OAKVILLE – Charity. Compassion. Gratitude. Setting an example. Leading the way. These cornerstones of Catholic education took center stage at St. Mary Magdalen School’s first Pink-Out Tuesday fund-raising event on Oct. 13.
In less than two weeks, students rallied to raise more than $3,500 for local breast cancer screening and treatment. The money was given to the St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation to support the hospital, which provides mammograms for local women who have little or no health insurance.
Early detection is a key factor in the fight against breast cancer, and no one knows that more than event coordinator Melissa Martin. The 38-year-old mother of two underwent chemotherapy, medication and a double mastectomy several years ago after a breast cancer diagnosis.
A thriving survivor, Mrs. Martin is a teacher at Sacred Heart High School and a fitness instructor and personal trainer at the YMCA, both in her hometown of Waterbury. She also coaches the St. Mary Magdalen School Little Runners Club for students in first through fifth grades.
She said she wanted her young athletes to do something special to raise a little money for the cause close to her heart. And raise money they did.
Organizers peppered the courtyard with pink mums and pink balloons. Local businesses donated pink T-shirts which the students wore to form the shape of a pink ribbon, the universal symbol for breast cancer awareness.
Coach Martin and the Little Runners led all students in a memorial lap around school grounds.
But it wasn’t just the athletes who ran with the fund-raiser idea. Athletic director David Mecca contacted administrators, staff and parents, and the school community took the opportunity to pair the fund-raising event with life lessons.
“As Catholics, in a Catholic school, we value human life. We need to show these kids how to value life,” Mr. Mecca said.
Father James Gregory, pastor of St. Mary Magdalen Parish, said, “Taking care of the poor. Thinking of others before ourselves” make up the Catholic way of life.
Students and parents are no strangers to fund-raising for a Catholic school, but organizers and guests agreed that students raising money for another cause shows that caring and compassion are necessary in every aspect of life.
Students colored paper ribbons adorned with messages of hope, of “God Bless You,” or bearing the names of survivors or loved ones lost to cancer. Speakers shared stories of struggle, support and survival related to cancer.
Coordinators plan to hold the event next year in the hope that other schools will be inspired by the success at St. Mary Magdalen.
“We can show other students, other schools in the archdiocese, that if we pitch in, we can help a lot of people,” Mr. Mecca said.