Iroquois students hoping to raise $40,000 for cancer research

By: Joshua Gordon | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published April 10, 2018

 Iroquois Middle School in Macomb Township is hosting the inaugural Circle of Hope fundraising event April 21 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Iroquois Middle School in Macomb Township is hosting the inaugural Circle of Hope fundraising event April 21 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Over the past decade, Iroquois Middle School in Macomb Township has raised more than $130,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

In that time, Iroquois students have used a range of fundraising methods, from a coin drive to food sales to a fundraising dodgeball tournament, to help raise money for pediatric cancer research.

This year, Iroquois is looking to make the next step in fundraising for the society by hosting Circle of Hope, a team fundraising event April 21 at the school’s track.

Shannon Lafrate, an Iroquois science teacher and student council sponsor, said the school has raised $16,000 the past couple of years, with an all-time best of $25,000. This year, they are aiming to raise $40,000. To do so, they decided to bring the community together with an all-day event.

Circle of Hope is a 12-hour event with money being raised through team registration. The inaugural event will include games for kids, two DJs, fitness events, food and a market area.

Registration costs $15 for adults and $10 for children 10 and younger. Each registration comes with a T-shirt, and the team that raises the most money will be awarded the Circle of Hope Award.

Lafrate said in the first year, they aren’t soliciting teams to fundraise, rather counting on registration and sponsorships to raise around $20,000, or half the school’s goal for the year. But, teams can fundraise if they want, and there is no minimum or maximum for the number of members per team.

“We have had a strong student council the last two years and our teachers here have a big impact,” Lafrate said. “We try to instill community in our students through different activities with food drives and toy drives and this fundraiser. This is a community with a lot of great people who want to give back.”

Lafrate said they have been working with Fox and Mohawk elementary schools to get the word out and register teams. Someone must be a captain and set up a team, and then they can invite others to join the team.

If someone wants to join, but doesn’t have a team, Lafrate said there is a student-based group that anyone can join. There are also sponsorship opportunities from $50 to $500 that include company teams and signage around the event.

Lafrate said they hope someone from each team is walking the track at all times to signify that “cancer never sleeps.”

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is the world’s largest voluntary health agency when it comes to blood cancer. Its mission is to cure diseases that are often fatal, such as leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, as well as improve the quality of life for patients and families.

“I have met some good friends who have been personally affected by leukemia, so this is important to me,” Lafrate said. “So much money raised for this society goes to the patients and research, so we really like to support them.”

Carol McQueen, the statewide director of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, said Iroquois has been the top fundraising school in the state for some time.

McQueen said involving all ages in the event is a great way to help spread the word for the society as well as bring the community together.

“These students have been really involved for the last 10 years and they have impacted our mission greatly here in Michigan,” McQueen said. “They have been able to be part of funding research grants and getting FDA approvals and getting these drugs out to the people who need these treatments.”

The event will go from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 21. For more information on the event and registration, visit events.lls.org/pages/mi/iroquoiscircleofhope. Lafrate said they also anticipate there to be some day-of registration available.