When third-grade student Benjamin Gilkey was fighting leukemia, his Southside Elementary community rallied around Gilkey and his family. The school also had another student, Avery Rann, who was battling cancer. Gilkey and Rann passed away last year. Now, students, parents and faculty at Southside Elementary are stepping up once again in honor of Gilkey and Rann through its Going Gold campaign. This is the second year Southside organized the fundraiser, but this time, they were joined by 12 other schools.
On Sept. 28, 13 elementary and middle schools from across the county went gold in honor of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The Going Gold campaign helped raise money for the Benjamin Gilkey Fund for Innovative Pediatric Cancer Research, a foundation Gilkey’s mother, Laura, started after her son died.
“It means so much to me that my son Benji continues to be remembered at Southside,” said Gilkey. “It’s even more impactful that other schools are taking part. Now, we have an even bigger community that is capable of making a difference and making students feel empowered.”
Throughout the 13 schools, students and faculty wore the color gold, donated various amounts of change in “Change for Cancer” collection containers, and held events such as “Lunch with a Loved One Week” and a “Rock the Gold” concert.
Collectively, the schools raised more than $17,000.
“Awareness is the number one goal for this campaign,” Gilkey said. “It’s important for students to understand what childhood cancer is about and know that they can advocate for their peers.”