2018-05-11 / Community

Middle school students ‘Strike Out’ cancer

By Grant McPherson
Staff Writer

Middle School Civics Teacher Doug Bennett has helped raise money for cancer research throughout the past decade and now has been an integral part of a brand new fundraiser held in support of the same cause.

Scarborough Middle School teachers, staff and students participated in the first ever Red Storm Strikes Out Cancer Walk, held Tuesday, May 1. The walk began and ended at the middle school, with participants following a route that led through Memorial Park.

Supporting cancer research is a personal cause for Bennett, as he’s lost his father, an uncle, fatherin law, grandfather, aunt and dog to the disease. Bennett was also named the Leader’s Great Person of the Year in 2014 in part for his work to start Red Storm Strikes Out Cancer.

“My family history is littered with cancer,” Bennett said. “Finding a cure is not an option. It has to happen.”

In the past, the Red Storm Strikes out Cancer club at Scarborough Middle School has raised money and participated in Mary’s Walk, an annual fundraiser in Saco that benefits the Maine Cancer Foundation. This year Red Storm Strikes Out Cancer raised $2,327 according to the Mary’s Walk website, the third highest team contribution. Bennett said the club raised a record amount of money five years ago, with $17,000 and over 200 participants in the walk, but involvement has declined since then.

“The money is pretty consistent,” Bennett said. “My son and I raised most of it, but that was never the goal. The goal was strictly to get people engaged in the idea of finding a cure. I decided we needed to do something closer to home with more kids involved. We pushed back athletics and clubs (starting times) so kids can be involved and participate. It’s been pretty awesome. We have all hands on deck supporting this.”

While the minimum suggested donation for the walk was $10, Bennett said the emphasis is on finding a cure.

“Our goal is to get over 200 people participating and our big goal is raising $5,000,” Bennett said. “We’ve done a lot of other things to help like the student versus staff basketball game last month, selling t-shirts and placing donation boxes around school. We do a lot of different things to raise money, we’ll see if it happens. We’re at a little below $2,000 right now.”

Middle School Principal Diane Nadeau said the walk is part of the school’s Spirit Week focusing on kindness. Students were encouraged to wear their Red Storm Strikes Out Cancer shirts on Tuesday. Wednesday was crazy hair day and Friday was rock star day. Nadeau said the theme of kindness began in late March when the students participated in a walk in out of solidarity with the victims of the Parkland, Florida shooting. The walk in was meant to demonstrate sticking together, as opposed to a walk-out. She said the theme of the walk fit in well with the spirit week that was already planned.

“This really ties in well together with the idea that everyone can do something for someone else,” Nadeau said. “I know that this is a cause very near and dear to Doug’s heart through his own personal circumstances. That being said there are so many people whose lives have been impacted. When Doug said he really wanted to see if we could make this a Scarborough event I said there’s no reason this can’t happen here in our own town and our own students. It starts with us, how we model things and the opportunities we provide for our students.”

Bennett said he hopes to have the donations to Maine Cancer Foundation by May 14. Having graduated from and taught in the school district for almost 25 years, Bennett said the town has grown considerably in his time but the passion has never faded.

“The people of Scarborough are awesome,” Bennett said. “People are always supportive of each other and all want the same things. They want Scarborough to be the best place it can be. From teaching in Scarborough to living in Scarborough, whatever happens is very personal to me no matter what.”

Staff Writer Grant McPherson can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

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