The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

TeamWalk steps up against cancer

Walkers in action

By Victoria Walker
Staff Writer

At 9:15 on Sunday, May 19, while many WA students were sleeping off prom, the annual carnival, and the Apple Blossom Parade, a group of around thirty met on the front steps of the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell, set on a goal of curing cancer one step at a time. Composed of members of the WA Girls’ Tennis Team and WA Girls’ Soccer Team, the group walked the three mile route of the Lowell General Hospital TeamWalk for CancerCare in support of Jeff Haight, a WA teacher and coach who is currently on leave receiving treatment for cancer.

Sunny, but only about seventy degrees, it was the perfect day for a walk. Countless people milled around the area, most walking in small groups of matching, brightly colored t-shirts, decorated with photographs and names of sick friends and family members.

After the last member arrived, the WA team met for a team picture, then headed out at 10:00 for the start of the walk. The three mile route laced along the Merrimack River and through downtown Lowell. All along the way, red-clad volunteers, police officers and supporters cheered in support of the walkers, waved home-made signs and kept the area safe for participants and traffic.

“The people from TeamWalk that stood on the side and cheered everyone on were so inspiring,” said junior Sally Lee. “They made the experience more personal and made me feel good about the cause and hopeful for the people the money was going to.”

A feasible three miles, the walk was a great experience that drew out volunteers of all ages, from grandparents, to teenagers, to toddlers pushed in strollers. A number of dog-walkers also joined in with their furry companions. There was no lack of support, either, with volunteers blowing noisemakers and ringing bells, and cancer victims waiting at the finish line to thank their family members.

“It was fun to spend time with my team on a beautiful day,” said junior Aditi Patil. “At the same time it was so fulfilling to know that I was helping out with this important cause, especially with the personal connection everyone at WA has with Mr. Haight.”

At the end of the walk, Haight met up with the WA team to thank them and say how much their effort means to victims of all types of cancer. While his illness is 90-95% curable and he is currently headed into a stage of recovery, there are still strains of the disease which have only few options available in the way of effective treatment. The money raised by the walk is intended to help provide relief to these victims and allow for the research which their treatment demands.

“As like any other couple going through cancer treatment, Mr. And Mrs. Haight have been through a lot in the past couple of months,” said WA junior Natalie Bishop. “Not only was it touching to the heart to do [the walk] in honor of both of them, but it was inspirational to know that we are helping all of those who are or have struggled with the fight.”

After setting a personal goal of $100 for every individual, the WA walking team ended up with close to $4,000, exceeding their original goal as many students went above and beyond in their fundraising endeavors. Lowell general hospital announced on Thursday that with over 5,000 walkers, $920,000 was raised.

“It was such an amazing experience for us and it was awesome to see Mr. Haight,” said sophomore Sarah Boughan. “The money goes to such a good cause and the money our team raised will hopefully make a huge difference in someone’s life.”

This was also the first time that the Girls’ Tennis and Soccer teams came together to collaborate and achieve a common goal. It was a good opportunity for WA athletes from different sport seasons to meet new people or spend more time with old friends.

“The TeamWalk was a huge factor for the teams to bond together and enjoy each other’s company,” said junior Monirot Soleap. “Hopefully we’ll be able to find another successful bonding opportunity again.”

It was a fun morning overall, and an emotional one for many. It is great to see WA students getting motivated in the support of a meaningful cause, which we will continue to see as many more students take on the Relay for Life on June 14 and 15. With so much action from just one school, it seems like just a matter of time before Haight and millions of others like him will be able to return to their normal lives for good.


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