Three south Augusta schools have found that cancer often hits close to home.
Goshen Elementary, Pine Hill Middle and Cross Creek High schools have teamed up to spread cancer awareness and raise money for its prevention. The more the schools rally around the cause, the more they discover cancer affects lives all around them.
The community started fundraising for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life after several Goshen Elementary students battled pediatric cancer and one died. Then, they heard more stories about mothers, teachers, principals and others battling cancer or celebrating survival.
“You hear about cancer, but until you take the time to think about how it affects you – these are your neighbors and co-workers – we just had that realization it was time to support these people and give back,” said Krista Fields, the Goshen Elementary PTO president.
Goshen raised more than $4,000 last year and is shooting for a higher goal this year by getting the entire community involved.
To kick off fundraising for the 2013 Relay for Life, the schools are holding a black tie event Saturday that will highlight the stories of cancer survivors. Before the gala with food, a silent auction and a fashion show, eight cancer patients will receive a day at the spa and new outfits for a big night out.
Rhonda Fleischauer was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 when she was pregnant with her son, Trevor, now 6 years old. Community support such as Saturday’s event encourages her to fight not for herself, but for Trevor.
“I’ve always had a saying ‘You can lay down and you can die, or you can get up and fight,’ ” she said.
Fleischauer has relapsed three times and undergone 11 surgeries. Most recently, the cancer metastasized into her sternum bones and lungs. She continues working three days a week as a hairstylist.
“I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know I take one day at a time. I get up and thank God,” she said.