Archived Story

Faces of the fight against breast cancer

Published 9:13am Thursday, October 22, 2009

Niles High School seniors and members of the Drug Free Players (pictured from left) president Ashlee Bielski, vice president Nicole Coussens, Jordan Brown and treasurer Bryan Evans have been busy promoting Pink Week, a week-long fundraising event to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. Not pictured is the DFP's secretary, Allie Hoyt. (Daily Star Photo/JESSICA SIEFF)
Niles High School seniors and members of the Drug Free Players (pictured from left) president Ashlee Bielski, vice president Nicole Coussens, Jordan Brown and treasurer Bryan Evans have been busy promoting Pink Week, a week-long fundraising event to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. Not pictured is the DFP's secretary, Allie Hoyt. (Daily Star Photo/JESSICA SIEFF)

By JESSICA SIEFF

Niles Daily Star

Take a few steps into the halls of Niles High School and it might not be noticeable at first.

But take another look around and everything starts to look a little pink.

Pink ribbons in the hallway, pink posters stuck outside the cafeteria, outside classrooms, students and staff in pink shirts, pink scarves and even strands of pink hair whisking by.

The school is in the middle of its second annual Pink Week, a week filled with fundraising to benefit breast cancer research.

As they sit just outside the hallway decorated with pink streamers and slogans seniors Ashlee Bielski, Nicole Coussens, Jordan Brown and Bryan Evans are the faces of the fight against breast cancer, the faces of those who know someone who has fought or continues to fight against the disease, the faces of those who make a difference in the fight by raising money and awareness, each day, if only for a week.

“We’ve seen quite a bit of a response,” said Coussens.

The week is an effort of the Drug Free Players and other groups who are showing their support. The student council took charge of pink streaks, giving students the opportunity Tuesday to have a pink streak put in their hair for a donation to the cause.

When the week comes to its end on Friday, with a ‘Mad Dash for Cash’ taking place during the Vikings’ last game of the season against Kalamazoo Loy Norrix, Evans said members of the football team will show their support with pink tape, pink ribbons and pink stickers.

“I think it’s really important,” said Brown.

Each of the seniors area active in Relay for Life and they said they take the cause seriously.

And understandably so. No Niles High School student could really say they’ve gone untouched by the disease.  Inside the Vikings’ halls, three members of staff are breast cancer survivors and two are currently fighting the disease.

This year, a portion of the money raised through various fundraising activities at the school will go toward one of those currently fighting against breast cancer.

Bielski said half of what’s raised during Pink Week will go to that individual to help with medical expenses or any other needs as she continues her fight against the disease.

“It meant a lot to her that we told her she was going to get (some of) the money,” she added.

But seniors like Coussens, Evans, Bielski and Brown aren’t just focused on the fundraising. They’re hoping that students will educate themselves on the facts of breast cancer – which they’ve posted up all over the school.

During Friday night’s football game, pink shirts will be shot out into the audience and students will hold a ‘Mad Dash for Cash’ for two minutes, running through the stands with buckets that were sponsored by various school clubs – the goal being to raise $1,000 in two minutes.

And perhaps one of the most anticipated events going on at the school this week buckets labeled with the names of certain teachers and three members of administration have been set out during lunch. Students are encouraged to donate change to the bucket of their choice.

And here’s the catch: the face or faces on the bucket with the most change at the end of the week will have to dye their hair pink on Friday.

Support has increased after the Drug Free Players pulled off their first Pink Week last year. Bielski said that event was thrown together in a matter of weeks, but members of the group have been working on the event for this year for months. And the awareness is starting to show.

“A lot more people are wearing pink this year,” Bielski said. “(And) we’ve had a lot more teacher support this year.”

Coussens said the group is hoping for good turnout at the game on Friday.
For these seniors, their part in the fight against breast cancer isn’t over, but will continue outside the walls of Niles High School when they graduate in the summer, leaving the effort to a change of hands – one that none of them seem worried about.

“They’re already talking about next year’s pink week,” Bielski said.
The fight continues.

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