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Waynesboro students take steps to fight cancer

March 30, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — After several of his classmates were diagnosed with cancer, Waynesboro Area Senior High School senior Derek Null decided it was time to take steps — dance steps to be exact — to fight back against the disease.

“There have been many students at our school that have been touched by cancer and not just the students — but teachers and family members,” Derek said this week.

So, on Saturday, he and 160 others will host a dance-a-thon in the high school cafeteria hoping to raise $5,000 in donations to benefit The Four Diamonds Fund.

The school’s first dance-a-thon, organized by the WASHS Indians and Maidens School Spirit Club, will be held from 3 to 10 p.m.

The WASHS dance-a-thon is one of 62 mini-thons or spinoffs — held across the state – mimicking Penn State University’s 46-hour dance-a-thon held in February to benefit The Four Diamonds Fund.

Community members are encouraged to attend the event to cheer on the participants. Admission costs $5 for community members.

In addition to dancing, participants will take part in dodge ball, basketball, floor hockey and other fun activities during the dance-a-thon.

“The only rule is you have to stay on your feet for all seven hours,” said Derek, the event chairman. “It would be nice if the community comes out for moral support, because seven hours on your feet is going to get pretty exhausting.”

The Four Diamonds Fund assists children treated at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital and their families through superior care, comprehensive support and innovative research.

Any family with a child being treated for pediatric cancer at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital is automatically eligible for support, according to the organization’s website.

The fund has helped more than 2,000 families since 1972.

The fund offsets the cost of treatment that insurance does not cover, as well as expenses that may disrupt the welfare of the child, such as car repairs, rent or household utilities. The fund supports the medical team that cares for the children and funds pediatric cancer research through startup grants and the Four Diamonds Pediatric Cancer Research Institute, according to the website.

Derek said at least three students from the high school have been helped by the fund.

“Around Christmas, a senior in our class was diagnosed with leukemia. We were trying to think of something to help her because her family had no health insurance,” Derek said. “Luckily, The Four Diamonds Fund helped to offset all the costs that insurance didn’t cover including rent and household utilities — so it’s easy on the child while they are going through their treatment.”

Linda Barry, assistant director of the Four Diamonds Fund, said each year the medical team at Hershey sees 100 newly diagnosed children.

“That’s 100 (children) too many,” Barry said. “So, the more we can increase the public’s awareness of how important it is to find a cure for this — I think that’s a tremendous effort that Waynesboro and other schools are putting forth to help us support our mission of conquering childhood cancer.”

On average, it costs $100,000 to treat a child with leukemia, Barry said.

“That doesn’t mean $100,000 will come out of the Diamonds Fund, but we’ll pay the balance on whatever insurance doesn’t cover,” Barry said.

“Everyone knows someone who has been touched by cancer, and it’s just a worthwhile cause because the Four Diamonds just does so much for,” Derek said.

If you go
• Waynesboro Area Senior High School Dance-A-Thon Saturday, April 2 3-10 p.m. in the high school cafeteria
• Admission: $5
• The public is invited to cheer on the dance-a-thon participants
• For more information, contact student chairman Derek Null at 762-8178

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