Each year Deerfield High School (DHS) students choose a charitable organization for their annual School Chest fundraiser and ask their families, staff, and the rest of the community to contribute to their thoughtfully chosen cause. This year the proceeds from School Chest, which in the past few years have ranged from $87,000 to $98,000, will be donated to LUNGevity Foundation, a lung cancer focused nonprofit working to raise awareness and funds for critical research.
It is no coincidence that LUNGevity has many connections to the Deerfield community.
“We made community a central focus when evaluating charities for School Chest,” explained Samantha Gottstein, DHS Junior and School Chest Co-Chair. “LUNGevity surpassed our hopes of selecting a beneficiary that students, teachers, families, and friends could feel connected to. The dedication and support that the Deerfield community has for this foundation will fuel the fight against lung cancer and make an incredible impact on DHS School Chest."
A meaningful all-school kick-off assembly was held on November 28th at the end of Lung Cancer Awareness month, with numerous fundraising events to follow over a three-week period. Some of the major events include: The Run for Change, a 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, December 1st at 9 am at DHS; The School Chest Benefit, a dinner and silent auction on Sunday, December 2nd at Hyatt Deerfield; DHS Idol on December 6th at DHS; and Mr. DHS on December 10th at DHS.
"We are beyond excited to begin School Chest 2012 in an environment that promotes altruism, challenges stigmas, and rewards passion, all in the name of one incredible organization,” said Graham Ambrose, DHS Junior and School Chest Co-Chair. “It is an honor to support LUNGevity at such a critical juncture for lung cancer research.”
DHS teacher and School Chest sponsor Ryan Rockaitis is equally excited to get School Chest 2012 underway, “There is nothing like watching student leaders unite the entire community to make a tangible difference in the world,” he said. . “Just when you think they can’t do any more, they do! How can you not be inspired?”
LUNGevity was founded in 2001 by seven lung cancer patients, including Gayle Levy, a DHS graduate, and Melissa Zagon, a young Deerfield mom. After their lung cancer diagnoses, they found there were few treatment options because of the lack of funding for research -- and they were determined to provoke change. They left an important legacy that will always be rooted in Deerfield.
“LUNGevity is honored and grateful that DHS has chosen to be the first school in the nation to take a stand against lung cancer,” said Sue Bersh, LUNGevity Board Member. “As a DHS mom and DHS graduate, I can’t tell you what this means to me personally after losing my best friend from DHS, Elyse Bernstein, to this cruel disease four years ago.”
“As a lung cancer patient and Deerfield mom of four, I continue to be overwhelmed and humbled by the outpouring of community support for this cause, and to feel that support from teenagers is what gives me hope,” explained Jill Feldman. “I am grateful that the DHS students have chosen to stand up and speak out for a cause that has been shadowed by a stigma of shame and blame. Their voices will be invaluable as they raise awareness and much needed funds for lung cancer research.”