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A golden wave washed over the Glenbrook South community during the first weeks of the new school year, building as it passed over volleyball courts, cross-country courses and soccer fields, before cresting during the football game against Maine South in early October.
It began Sept. 12, when the GBS boys golf team sported golden towels while teeing off against Niles West, and ended Friday, Oct. 5, when the football players, cheerleaders, poms and marching band all donned the national color of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month to support pediatric cancer research for the second-annual Go Gold campaign.
During the football game, the bleachers were packed with gold-clad spectators as 12-year-old Glenview resident Brannon Moran – a Maple School seventh-grader who has been battling medulloblastoma, a form of brain cancer, since 2014 – ran the ball onto the field prior to kickoff.
At halftime, local seventh- and eighth-graders, complete with gold bows and poms, joined the high school poms team for a dance.
Meanwhile, at the concession stand, a portion of the night’s proceeds went directly to support research through various organizations.
“The best part about this: the money raised doesn’t go somewhere far away; it goes right back to kids in the Chicagoland area and kids in Glenview,” said Kim Kiraly, a GBS swim coach and sponsor of the Girls Letter Club, which spearheaded the campaign. “Our kids can feel and see the impact they’re making directly on their own community, and that’s something, as a whole, GBS really prides itself on instilling in students.”
GBS seniors Grace Evens, Katie Gates, Mary Grace Reynolds and Sarah Groose — the club’s executives — coordinated all the moving parts with the help of Kiraly.
“Glenview and the GBS community as a whole are always so welcoming to initiatives like this,” said Reynolds, who plays lacrosse. “Everyone’s been touched by cancer in some way or another, and it’s great to see the community rally around these kids. It’s such a great cause.”
Throughout the weeks leading up to the football game, each fall sports team donned gold gear donated by the Cal’s Angels Foundation, which was established by Tom and Stacey Sutter in 2007 after they lost their oldest son, Cal, to leukemia. The foundation’s mission is granting wishes, raising awareness and funding research to help the 40,000 kids affected by pediatric cancer each year.
There were eight events in total — the boys golf match with Niles West on Sept. 12, the boys soccer match with Evanston and the boys cross-country meet on Sept. 17, a girls volleyball match with Evanston and a tennis match on Sept. 24, a girls golf match with Glenbrook North on Sept. 25, an Hour of Power boys and girls swim meet on Sept. 26, and the Oct. 5 football game.
The campaign was conceived last fall by three-sport athlete Kate Gregory, currently a senior at GBS, after her younger brother, Luke, was diagnosed with cancer the previous year. Luke, currently a sophomore, runs track and cross-country at GBS.
By the end of the campaign, the Titans had raised more than $5,000 toward pediatric cancer research.
According to Gates, who does poms in the fall and soccer in the spring, organizers stressed the awareness side of the equation even more in year No. 2.
“I think a lot of the athletes walked in last year not knowing exactly why they were wearing gold,” she said. “They were eager to help, but they didn’t want to just look the part, they really wanted to support the cause.”
That responsibility rested with Girls Letter Club, a group of female GBS athletes who meet every Tuesday before school to give back to their community through events like Gym Jam and Turnabout.
Although the four lead organizers will graduate this spring, they hope the campaign will continue to grow in year No. 3 and beyond.
“I think they will continue with this next year,” Gates said. “We’ve made such a positive impact and brought about so much awareness. Sometimes [high school students] get too involved around schoolwork and our own lives that we need to take a step back, and this has been such a positive for all of us. I think it’ll be going on for a long time.”
For more information about Cal’s Angels or to donate to the cause, visit calsangels.org.