WAYLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — The student council at Wayland Union High School has a somewhat unique setup in that the members meet every day as part of a class rather than as a club after school.
It has led to a lot of opportunities for the students, including a new tradition that will continue long after the young women who started it graduate.
Emily Drew and Haylee Jasinski, both seniors, spearheaded an effort their freshman year for an event called Coaches Against Cancer.
A representative from the American Cancer Society reached out to them as part of an effort to expand the fundraiser from colleges to high schools. It raises money for the American Cancer Society to stay in each community.
“Basically, it’s just putting on a fundraiser basketball game. We took it and totally ran with it. It was an instant success from the first year,” Drew explained.
They raised around $6,000 with that first event. As happy as they were with that outcome, they knew they could do better the following year.
“We thought we can go bigger and better. We got lots of business sponsors, t-shirts, student sections, it was huge. We went all out and ended up raising $20,000 the next year,” said Jasinkski.
It’s not only impressive for a school with a student body of about 1,000 students but it was also the most any school in the state raised that year, and it stayed in West Michigan.
The girls toured Project Hope in Grand Rapids before picking a beneficiary of the fundraiser.
“It’s a place where cancer patients can stay while they’re getting treatment, and it helps their families too,” Drew said.
“We were really proud of that and we were really excited to share that with everybody,” Jasinski added.
As far as their goal for this year’s event, which will happen during the boys’ basketball season, the girls have set the number at $25,000.
“There is a lot of students in our school that have been impacted (by cancer) as well. They’ve reached out and said things to encourage students and to make it known that this impacts people in our school,” Drew said.
They started it because they wanted to help in some way. Now, members of the student council will continue the new tradition for many years to come.
“It’s sad to know that we won’t be there for it anymore,” both girls agreed but say they do plan to attend future Coaches Against Cancer fundraisers at the school.
*Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled Jasinski’s first name. We regret the error, which has been corrected.