GOWRIE - Each year, more than 13,000 children are diagnosed with various forms of cancer, but childhood cancer is an illness that doesn't always get the same awareness that other types of cancer receive.
Students at Prairie Valley High School want to change that by helping to bring awareness to their community and school by holding a Childhood Cancer Awareness Week in conjunction with their homecoming festivities beginning Friday.
"We've had pink-outs in other years," said Student Council President Jaclyn Rittgers. "And those were always big, but they're a pretty common idea. Since September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month we thought it would be a great idea to do something different. We thought we could change things up and do something for childhood cancer to bring awareness in our community."
The fundraising efforts will kick off Friday when students will be allowed to wear hats to school for a $1 donation. Monday students will participate in P'Jammin Day, a national childhood cancer awareness effort in which students can wear pajamas to school for a donation.
"It represents the time kids with cancer spend in their pajamas while they are sick," said Brooke Hendrickson, a community volunteer for the fundraising efforts.
Throughout the week, students at the elementary and junior/senior high schools will participate in "change wars" bring pennies on Monday, nickels Tuesday, dimes on Wednesday and quarters on Thursday. The classes raising the most money in the change wars will receive $100 donations from Heartland and Security Savings banks.
"It's a really cool way to raise money," said Rittgers. "The classes will even have a chance to go against each other. If they put the wrong amount in the wrong bucket we'll subtract that amount."
Students had the opportunity to purchase gold T-shirts for the week's main event, a "gold out" night at the varsity volleyball game Sept. 27. During the gold out, gold bandanas, keychains, gold ribbon tattoos and gold chocolate suckers will be available for purchase with all proceeds being donated to childhood cancer awareness. A bucket will be passed during the volleyball game and again at the Sept. 28 homecoming football game to collect additional donations for cancer awareness. Athletes at both the volleyball and football games will be wearing gold shoestrings.
The student council also spent their day off from school Wednesday soliciting donations to continue their fundraising efforts to help meet their goal of $5,000.
"The student council has been awesome and picked right up on this," said Hendrickson. "We thought a goal of $3,000 sounded good, but the students wanted to go for $5,000 and they know they can do it."
During the volleyball game, six cancer survivors or surviving family members of those who have had childhood cancer will be honored.
"It will be fun," Rittgers said. "We have some great events planned and we are excited for it."