This I Believe

Magdalena - Lemont, Illinois
Entered on February 6, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: hope
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Maggie J

The Gift of Caring

I was sitting in a yellow, old, smelly classroom on a Saturday morning. I was in polish school, listening to my teacher, a middle-aged lady, drone on about the importance of old, dead, polish kings. I was about to fall asleep, when the principal came walking into our classroom. She is a pretty intimidating lady, very large, with brown eyes that catch everything. She chatted with the teacher for a few moments before announcing something that changed my outlook on life.

“I’m here to tell you that one of your fellow upperclassmen has leukemia. He is in the 8th grade and he needs our help.” His name was Damian and his mom was a teacher at the school. I’ve never talked to him because he was a year older, but I have seen him acting like a normal teenager. I would have never suspected him to have leukemia. “We will have a school-wide fundraiser for him, and we need volunteers since you are the oldest class here right now. We don’t want him to find out we are doing this, so don’t tell him.” I gladly volunteered. This was the first time someone I knew had this type of life-threatening disease, and was glad to help someone that was so close to my age.

There were six of us on the committee, my friends and me. We made the design of the collection boxes and distributed one to each teacher. We also went to different stores after school and gave them colorful boxes also. We made bright fliers and posted them all over the neighborhood. It was very exciting to see the progress we were making. Every class would donate and parents were writing checks that had a lot of money. Everyone was being so helpful, and a lot of people didn’t even know him.

This process of collecting money went on for about 6 weeks. We collected over 3,000 dollars. There was an assembly right before spring break, and the principal presented the donations to Damian and his mom. His mom started to cry when she saw the amount of money we raised. She couldn’t believe how giving people were. Damian was stunned. He had no idea that the school was at his side, ready to help his family and him overcome this situation.

A month later, he started his chemo therapy and was adjusting to life without hair. He was treated differently, but he got used to it. Now, two years later, he is completely cured and it’s thanks to the giving people of the world. I have done my part and am glad I helped out. This simple gesture saved his life, and that will be how I remember that moment: I saved a person’s life. Now, I try to donate or help out with a fundraiser at least once a year. The result of my lending a hand leaves me with a feeling of hope and that there really is more than one type of hero.