The gloomy Oregon weather couldn’t dampen the spirits of students from six local high schools as they took to the streets of Portland for the annual Walk for Joy fundraiser. What started as a community event with Jesuit High School in 1998, has now grown to encompass six local Catholic schools: Jesuit High School Portland, Central Catholic High School, St. Mary’s Academy, Valley Catholic School, La Salle Catholic College Preparatory, and De La Salle North Catholic High School.
These schools share in fierce competition, especially during football season, but Walk for Joy is an opportunity to put aside rivalries and unite in support of children and teens facing cancer and serious illness through the power of Children’s Cancer Association’s (CCA) Joy-based programming.
Uniting for a Cause
For Jesuit senior and event organizer, Kate, the fundraiser is personal.
“My older brother, Tim, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) in 2013 and he underwent treatment at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. We got to know CCA through his Chemo Pal mentor, Kevin. He would come up and play games with my brother and let my mom have a break.”
“It’s [Walk for Joy] not just a fundraiser, it’s an effort for me to give back. There’s nothing I can ever do to repay CCA for all that they do. This is a way for me to say thank you and pay it forward. Cancer touches everybody and when you’re walking together it’s a little less lonely.
Walk for Joy has shown how important it is to fight for something together, especially since we don’t have a cure for cancer, we don’t have a cure for this pain, but we have each other and we have a force. We’re a force of Joy and nothing is going to stop that. Until cancer is cured, we’re going to keep walking.”
Kate isn’t the only student who feels this passion for the event, she’s joined by 450 other students, each with their own reason for walking.
A Generation Making the Difference
CCA Founder, Regina Ellis, and son Zach joined students at Sellwood Riverfront Park where inspirational speeches were shared and Regina touched on the power of youth to organize and change the world for the better.
“Joy doesn’t hide. We need it. It’s as essential as air, food, and love. It helps us get through really hard times. Whether you have a serious illness like cancer or not, we all need Joy in our lives. At CCA our mission is to prescribe Joy and have it a part of the pediatric healthcare experience. What you walk for inspires your family and friends to help. It makes a powerful difference. Thank you for raising your voices, compassion, and kindness for others.”
A Legacy Which Will Live On
For the principal of Jesuit High School and CCA Board Member, Paul Hogan, nothing could make him prouder than to see the passion and growth in this event which was just a dream over twenty years ago.
“Walk for Joy is an action step for what kids are learning in school. We ask them to think deeply about their role in the world. It’s a chance for the kids to live out the act of giving back and celebrating life – in the process we’re transformed, and I’ve seen thousands and thousands of kids impacted.
I could step out at any point; the kids would make sure it keeps going and it’s changed the dynamic for the schools too. The kids on both sides have all been wearing purple and it seems like we’re really all one team. Gives you faith in humankind.”
And no one believes more in the power of humankind than those who know Joy. Our thanks to all the students, faculty, and organizers from Jesuit High School Portland, Central Catholic High School, St. Mary’s Academy, Valley Catholic School, La Salle Catholic College Preparatory, and De La Salle North Catholic High School. Special thanks to sponsor (w)here Real Estate.
Through the end of the year, students will continue to fundraise for CCA’s Joy-based programs with a goal of $50,000. Please consider making a donation today to help them reach their goal!