Hand in hand and side by side, more than 300 Cayman Academy students marched along Walkers Road in purple-and-white shirts on Friday morning as part of the school’s annual ‘Cancer and Alzheimer’s Stride’.
Now in its eighth year, the half-mile trek begins at the school and ends at the Cayman Islands Cancer Society.
This year, the students raised more than $4,700. The money was split between the Cancer Society, which received $3,200, and the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Association of the Cayman Islands, which was given the remaining $1,500.
“Our school family has been affected by cancer, so we wanted to show our support in a tangible way,” said staff member Sofia Hamilton, who helped to organise the event.
To raise the funds, each student was tasked with collecting donations. Jonela McLean was the top collector, raising $900, followed by Roger Johnson, who took in $400. Jonela, 16, and Roger, 11, both understand the pain of losing a loved one to cancer.
“I too was affected by cancer in my family,” said Jonela. “My aunt died from cancer in 2007, and so I saw fit to raise this money so that others like her could get treatment, so they could feel better.”
“My grandmother died from cancer,” said Roger. “[Her death] made me feel sad, because I didn’t have much time to spend with her.”
Now in its 25th year, the CICS provides cancer patients with varying degrees of financial assistance. Jennifer Weber, the Cancer Society’s operations manager, was on hand to receive the cheque. She thanked the students for their selfless and generous acts and told them that their donation would help the Cancer Society strengthen its focus for the next 25 years.
“The first 25 years of the Cancer Society were all about early detection, education and awareness about cancer,” Weber told the students. “But, the next 25 years, which is going to be your lifetime, is all about prevention. Money like this will help to prevent cancer in your generation. So, when you all grow up, I hope you will all be saying, ‘Cancer? We used to talk a lot about that, but we don’t hear about that much in Cayman no more’”.
Last year, Cayman Academy officially brought on the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Association as a second charity. The organisation’s treasurer, Philip Scott, was at the event to receive the donation.
“Thank you so, so, so, so much,” said Scott. “We will be doing what we can to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s. Making everybody know what happens, how it can affect you, and also how to respond and deal with it.”
Collecting more than $200 were students Amiah Robinson, Garnicia Edgar, LaWanda Williams and Devontae Frederick. Year 4 Trail and Year 12 Morgan ranked as the classes with the highest contributions.