The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
The scoreboard was lit up and throngs of cheering people filled Port Arthur’s Memorial Stadium early Saturday.
The Lincoln Middle School Band was joined by cheerleaders and dancing groups as music poured from speakers and walkers took to the track but this was not a sporting event.
This was a celebration of life and a fundraising event for the Pink Cancer Awareness Walk-a-Thon hosted by Memorial 9th Grade Academy.
Standing in the bleachers Mollyn Cole’s surgical mask did not hide her cheery, upbeat personality as she cheered and greeted co-workers and students.
Cole, a Port Arthur ISD educator with 17 years teaching experience, took a leave from her position as music instructor at Booker T. Washington Elementary School earlier this year when she was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia and small lymphocytic lymphoma. Basically, she said, this means cancer of the blood and tissue.
“Cancer has touched so many lives,” Cole said as she looked at the track filled with supporters of cancer awareness. “When I was diagnosed I was terrified. Everyone in my family who has had cancer has died except for one person. I want to join that one and make two survivors.”
While “pink cancer awareness” is typically associated with breast cancer all cancers are recognized.
“When I discovered the cancer it was not a lump in my breast but like a pebble in my neck,” she said.
By the time she was able to be tested two weeks later the pebble had grown to a cluster. More testing revealed the tumors were caused by the leukemia.
Funds raised from the walk-a-thon will be divided and given to a newly dedicated fund established on behalf of former district employee, Madeline Savoy, established as the “Madeline Savoy PAISD Cancer Fund.”
Savoy, a longtime educator and prominent community member, lost her battle with cancer last year at the age of 57. Winnie Frelow, also a longtime educator and prominent community member, lost her battle with cancer earlier this year at the age of 64.
Lisa Chambers, principal at the 9th grade academy, headed up the event.
She spoke of the event as a way to bring the community together and of the strong bond of those within the district and how they are like family.
The funds will be available for any current PAISD employees fighting cancer and accumulating bills related to the fight. Funds will be available for the individual only and not the family, according to the district.
Each school and participating community members went into competition mode to see who could collect the most.
“This has been a competition for some weeks,” Chambers said with a laugh. “A beautiful competition.”
Katy Perry’s song “Roar” pumped from speakers as the groups of walkers passed by, many of whom were singing along.
One participant walked slowly by, knee braces on both legs, while holding on to a walker while Daniel Garcia, a teacher at Thomas Jefferson Middle School, strolled by wearing an orthopedic walking boot.
Garcia, who is a sponsor of the school’s Hispanic Cultural Club, held hands with his 7-year-old daughter Daniella Garcia on their trek around the track.
“I think this (event) sends out a good message,” Garcia said. “And we had a great turnout.”