As the Friday Night Lights shined bright, students gathered at the football field in support of M-A’s first cancer awareness event, March for Melanoma. Spike ball nets and cornhole boards lined the field, in addition to a food truck and cotton candy stand near the entrance.
The event was organized by seniors Chiara Cline and Claire Auslander. Cline was inspired by her mom, who passed away from melanoma, a form of skin cancer. Cline explained that the event was something close to her heart and how “it just kind of made sense. It’s something I wanted to bring to M-A because I wanted to do something to make a difference.”
With the help of the community’s support, the event raised more than $14,000, almost tripling their original goal of just $5,000. Auslander said, “We hope that March for Melanoma can become an annual tradition at M-A, and we can keep raising the goal every year.” The money raised goes to the Melanoma Research Alliance, which conducts research to develop clinical trials, drugs, and treatments.
Cline said, “My vision for the event was a really fun social event with a lot of themes around melanoma, a lot of messages like the luminaria (paper lanterns) and having a lot of the color purple because that’s the color for melanoma. Just a lot of meaningful things, but also making it fun to celebrate how much money we raised.”
Cline found some of the organizational aspects of the event quite difficult, yet she learned how to overcome these obstacles and was willing to work hard to execute the event. She noted, “it’s kind of hard when we’re only in high school, but I did some research and found organizations that we could donate to, and I started brainstorming what I wanted it to look like. Then I actually went to leadership.”
While the big event was solely organized by a few high school students, it was a great success. M-A’s dance team made an appearance as they showed their support and enjoyed the event activities. Dancer Katelyn Pohlman said, “it’s really great to have the team come together and do fun activities like making bracelets and playing spikeball, all for such a good cause.”
Cline said that in the “future we might try to partner with the Menlo Park Relay for Life, but I do want to continue to do an annual fundraiser because our school really hasn’t done any sort of cancer fundraiser.” She also added that “this is the first one, so hopefully it’ll grow and will become more of a tradition. I know my sister will probably carry it on.”