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Boone students say ‘adios’ to cancer

No matter what language you say it in, cancer is a dirty word. For kids in Daniel Boone High School’s Spanish Club, working to eradicate the word — or, more importantly, the terrible disease it represents — has become their main mission.
“Cancer touches every one of us. Somebody we know has cancer,” said Kimberly Garst, a junior at Boone and member of the Spanish Club. “It is a horrible disease and we want to help people who have it.”
Through a variety of fundraising efforts, the group is doing just that. With a goal of raising $10,000, club members are doing everything from selling American Cancer Society T-shirts to hosting an upcoming spring garage sale.
“We’re selling T-shirts and luminaries and we are accepting spare change donations for people to buy purple feet to put on the walls at school,” said Chandler Fox, a senior who raised $280 in just two days. “I wanted to help. I figured I could sell T-shirts pretty good.”
Spanish teachers Robert Rose and Rachel Pelkey are helping their students with their efforts, too. For both Rose and Pelkey, the cause is personal.
“For me, this is a big one. My dad just died two weeks ago from pancreatic cancer,” Pelkey said. “Watching someone suffer through this and deteriorate completely and waste away to nothing is the most horrific thing I’ve experienced in my life. I hope that nobody else ever has to experience that.”
Pelkey said seeing what the cancer did to her father was worse than losing him.
“If we raise $10,000 or anywhere close to that, for me, that’s a chance for someone else not to have to see their loved one suffer,” she said. “If it is one less family, one less individual having to go through that, then that is a huge thing for me.”
It’s a huge thing for Rose, too, who knows all too well what it’s like to watch a loved one battle cancer.
“In 2000, I almost lost my wife,” he said. “She had a carcinoid tumor that doctors accidentally found in her appendix.”
Married now for 25 years, Rose and his wife survived the ordeal.
But his family’s connection to cancer doesn’t end there.
Rose’s father is a cancer survivor while his father-in-law lost his battle with the disease. A cousin survived testicular cancer, but is unable to have children now because of it. And on March 29, Rose learned his brother-in-law had been diagnosed with bladder cancer.
“With all that cancer in our family, I am very worried about our children as well as other people,” Rose said. “I’ve seen what it did to us. It is devastating. That pain, that suffering, I don’t want people to have to go through that.”
In fact, Rose is so ready to help, he is offering a little inspiration to his students. If the club reaches $4,800 in fundraising, Rose will spend 96 hours up above the high school in the bucket of a cherry picker.
“I will go up at 2:30 p.m. on May 9 and come down at 2:30 p.m. on May 13,” Rose said. ”Oh, and a little known fact — I’m afraid of heights.”
Rose has enlisted other Boone faculty members to join him for periods of time in the bucket if the students meet additional fundraising goals.
Sixteen-year-old Paiten Winstead is hopeful the group can meet those goals.
“My grandma had throat cancer and my boyfriend’s mom had cancer, too. Everyone having it, that inspired me to do this,” she said. “And we have a lot people supporting us and wanting to participate.”
Among those is Rose’s own son, Michael. Now 16, Michael Rose barely remembers his mother’s battle with cancer more than a decade ago.
“I just remember she was in the hospital a lot and I didn’t like it,” he said. “I remember not seeing my mom for long periods of time.”
The Boone sophomore has a personal goal to raise at least $500.
“I don’t think it’s that hard to raise money for something that is this good of a cause,” he said, noting he has already raised approximately $200. “Cancer affects everyone somehow. It’s a disease that needs a cure.”
Members of the Spanish Club will also take part in this year’s Relay For Life of Washington County on June 29 as a part of their ongoing fight against cancer.
For more information on the Spanish Club’s efforts, visit www.dbspanish.org.