Freedom High School Students Raise $11,000 for Cancer Research

McArdle Laboratory Director Paul Lambert accepts the donation check from the Freedom High School students

Students at Freedom High School recently raised and donated $11,000 for cancer research at the McArdle Laboratory. The students have been raising money for McArdle for several years, and this year’s generous donation was by far and away their largest contribution yet.

The charitable endeavors of Freedom High School students are a traditional part of the high school’s Crystal Ball, their annual winter formal dance. In the weeks leading up to the dance, every club and team on campus nominates a member to serve on the Crystal Ball royalty court, and that nominee is then responsible for spearheading the club’s fundraising efforts. After the fundraising period is over, the club nominees that raised the most money are coronated as Crystal Ball Royalty.

Being nominated as their club’s representative is both an honor and a responsibility which the students take seriously. Each club and its representative choose their own fundraising approaches, and consistently rise above and beyond all expectations through their enthusiasm and creativity.

The methods for fundraising ranged from running bake sales to collecting aluminum cans to providing oil changes or car repairs in exchange for a donation. This year, one club even organized a schoolwide rock-paper-scissors tournament with a two dollar buy-in, one dollar of which went to prizes and the other dollar towards cancer research.

Sadly, this year’s giving effort was motivated in part by the passing of Freedom High School’s longtime band director Jon Delany to cancer. A beloved member of the Freedom community, his many years of service to the school and his battle with cancer inspired the students. The Freedom High School students banded together to raise their largest donation yet, hoping to make an impact in the fight against cancer in memory of their band director and all other members of the community affected by cancer.

“What makes all the students’ efforts extra special is that they go above and beyond every year,” says Mary Jo Bolwerk, a student council advisor and teacher at Freedom High School. “The whole community rallies around the students. Everybody is just so generous and so willing to participate in the fight against cancer.”

Over the past several years, the relationship between Freedom High School and the McArdle Laboratory has continually grown stronger. Several years ago, a group of Freedom students visited the McArdle Laboratories to meet with McArdle scientists and to get a first-hand look at the research their outstanding efforts had made possible. This year Dr. Paul Lambert, the director of the McArdle Laboratory, was invited to attend the Crystal Ball Week pep rally to personally accept the check for cancer research at McArdle.

Reflecting on his visit to the Freedom High School, Dr. Lambert said “I was able to appreciate all of the heart and soul that every student put into this fundraising event, its importance to their community, and what it says about these inspiring young women and men. It was a real pleasure to be able to thank them personally for all their wonderful work, and to share with them a little about how we will use their donations to continue our research into finding new ways to prevent cancer and better treat patients with cancer.”