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Teens on Their Way to Raising $100,000 for Cancer Research

ADA, Mich.- Three years ago when Mariah Otolski along with Sydney Vinton and Isabella Fiorenzo were in 8th grade at Forest Hills Central, they were given a project in their Challenge Social Studies class. The girls were asked to pick an innovation that has made a huge impact on the world. At that time, two best friends of Mariah’s mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Instantly, she had an idea for their project; chemotherapy.

The girls were able to interview Dr. Vander Woude at the Van Andel Institute and got a tour of the facility. They were able to learn about Purple Community, which is highlighted different schools that put on sporting events to raise money for cancer research. At that time, the girls decided that they would make it their goal, to raise $100,000 for VAI by their senior year.

Now in their junior year, the girls have raised upwards of $65,000 and Friday marked their annual Purple Game to continue their fundraising efforts. From the money taken at the door, to baked goods, t-shirts, raffles and even purple popcorn, they girls are on their way to raising nearly $40,000 this year alone.

“Lake Michigan Credit Union has been a big help. They decorated their whole branch in all purple and they’ve been just asking cars who go through the drive through to drop their spare coins in our collection bin, we’ve done coin drives in the elementary schools.” Sydney said.

Even thought FHC was playing against Caledonia, whose jerseys are already purple, they also had special purple and white jerseys for the event.

“Freshman year my mom was diagnosed with cancer; it’s a terrible thing to see someone go through and I just wanted to make a difference for the community, to come together for something that’s so negative in so many people’s lives.” Junior Allie Wittenbach said.

At half-time, a very special little girl and her family was honored. FOX 17 recently  introduced viewers to 19 month-old Abby Greer and detailed her terminal brain cancer called Ependymoma. While the family relies on hope, doctors have given Abby about six months to live.

“Cancer is a terrible thing no matter what age you are at, but for someone so young to have something so serious, it’s an emotional thing.” Wittenbach added.

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