Niles High School students raise more than $5,000 to fight cancer

Published 1:35 pm Wednesday, February 8, 2023

NILES — A group of Niles High School students is doing its part to raise money for cancer research.

The school’s Students Against Destructive Decisions group recently donated $5,600 to two local organizations – the Brian Parker Foundation and Hope Grows. Each organization received $2,800.

“This year was different for us because we did not have any home games due to the field constructions, but our students, staff, and community came in strong,” said Niles teacher and SADD organizer Karissa Young.

Since 2013, Hope Grows has raised more than $438,000 to support the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program for cancer recovery and cancer support services at Marie Yeager Cancer Center, funded through Corewell Health Foundation Southwest Michigan. 

The Brian Parker Memorial Foundation was founded in honor of Brian Parker, who died after a 16-month battle with leukemia on July 1, 1980.

His parents, Dick and Judy Parker, formed the Brian Parker Memorial Foundation to better support the community that supported them through Brian’s battle. The money will be used for cancer research, as well as aiding others who are in financial need.

“We’ve chosen to support the Brian Parker Foundation and Hope Grows because our students and families have been impacted by these local organizations,” Young said. “We recognize what they are doing for our community and we want to give back to them like they do for our community.”

According to Young, the group did a variety of different fundraising efforts this year, including the school’s annual panhandling where the fall athletes went around school and home “panhandling” for donations. Young said the event raised $2,506.72.

“The freshmen came in strong the first couple days and well, the upperclassmen didn’t want that,” she said. “Another class had a parent donate a large check and it was the talk of the school. After confirmation of that donation, seniors were on a mission to win.”

In addition to panhandling, students sold their annual Pink Week shirt to students, staff, and community during the 13th annual event. Students hosted a district-wide jeans day where staff donated to wear jeans, sold pink items and had a hat day for $1. 

Students also planted bright pink flamingos in the staff’s yard and for donations, we retrieved the flock. At the Pink Week game, SADD hosted its annual Mad Dash for Cash, where students ran around with buckets for two minutes collecting as many donations as possible. 

“It takes a whole school, district, and community effort to make Pink Week a success,” she said. “Our Vikings came through.”