Students, staff, and parents of Walter Lee elementary school raised more funds to help fight childhood cancer than any other school in the Lower Mainland competing in the Race for Kids hosted by RBC in support of B.C. Children’s Hospital.
But while the $6,765 total is impressive, it pales in comparison to the amount of love and concern also raised throughout the challenge.
Walter Lee Elementary School is home to a special student, Kelsey Chen, a seven-year-old who is in the middle of an intense battle with cancer.
Kelsey was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma when she was only three and a half years old, which is a cancerous tumor that can invade and destroy nearby tissue. The tumor pressed on the chiasm optic nerve causing damage and resulting in Kelsey’s loss of vision.
The cancer had been in remission but a little over a month ago, it returned.
“We did fundraising during the past three years. This year, however, was the biggest,” said Michele Melanidis, education assistant at Walter Lee school and the team captain of the Walter Lee Lions. Also, Melanidis has been transcribing print to braille for Kelsey during the past three years.
“We pushed a bit this year to support Kelsey; we made announcements every morning to ask people to join our team (in school). Also, we tried to use social media and emails to reach out to more people. ”
Melanidis describes Kelsey as “a shining star and has talent in writing.” She published two books last year, titled What a Wonderful World and The Amazing Adventure. Richmond Public Library has saved copies of her books. Currently, she is working on her third book.
Even running back and forth between the hospital and school, Kelsey never loses her spirit; neither does she ever stop fighting or writing, according to Ivy Chen, Kelsey’s mother.
Chen expresses gratitude to all the support they’ve received so far. “Teachers, doctors, and lots of community members help Kelsey to get better; we are fighting together to end the disease. Hopefully, other people could get inspired and support each other,” said Chen.
A poem composed by Kelsey reads: “Helping people is very, very nice. And you can fill their bucket, and you will fill your bucket. Helping people is very ...nice, especially when you fill yourself buckets. ”