National Honor Society Host First Mini-THON to Raise Money to Support Children Fighting Cancer

Lanaye Jordan, Staff Writer

Norristown Area High School hosted its first-ever Mini-THON fundraiser to support families battling childhood cancer. After an emotional and month-long process, members of the National Honor Society were able to bring the school district and community together to bring awareness to pediatric cancer last Friday, April 1. By the end of the night, the National Honor Society announced it raised $11,811.15 in donations, but after more donations came in, that number was up to over $12,000 by Monday. 

There were different types of games and activities throughout the gym and lobby that kept attendees having fun. Everywhere you turned, you saw a smiling face either playing Jenga, Connect 4, or Cornhole. Attendees also showed off their strength in a friendly game of tug-of-war and their hand-eye coordination in cup-pong. Pictures of the event were taken by Norristown Area High School’s photography students, and in the gym lobby, students got their faces painted by the Art Honor Society to show their Norristown and Mini-THON pride. 

Around 7:20 pm, the entertainment was brought to the gym. Norristown’s drumline and the color guard performed. In fact, this was one of the color guard’s first performances. After their performances, the step team showed us their moves, as well as the Sabor Latino Dance Crew. Lastly, the cheerleaders were able to give us an entertaining cheer during their off-season. When the groups finished with their performances, everyone partied until 9 with music being played by Dj Belly. In the cafeteria, there was water ice, pizza, tomato pie, snacks, drinks, and a Bake Sale, all served by members of the Honor Society.

Senior Layla Chaaraoui is the Norristown National Society’s Mini-THON chair. She was one of the many students to spread the word about Mini-THON and helped collect donations. Chaaraoui expressed that there were many people that chose to donate, including teachers, local businesses, and community members, which made the event all the more special. 

“Mini-THON was a very successful and rewarding event. It was amazing to see everyone in the Honor Society come together to work the event,” said Chaaraoui. “I was so excited to help plan this because of what Mini-THON is. So many hours went into making the event a success.” 

Kirstin Colloton, a 10th English teacher and co-advisor of the fundraiser, worked with Steve DiNenno, the advisor for the Honor Society, to help the students plan for the event. There was a lot that went into this event, and it was rewarding for those who helped make this night possible. 

“Mr. DiNenno and I were thrilled with the success of the first annual NAHS Mini-THON on Friday evening,” said Ms. Colloton. 

Ms. Colloton shared that Mini-THON is designed with the support of resources through the Four Diamonds Fund and that students set up their own fundraising pages through the Four Diamonds site. The night was a lot of fun, but people never stopped thinking about the true meaning of the event. 

“I think all attendees had fun while keeping the focus on the cause: conquering childhood cancer,” said Ms. Colloton.

This lively event also had many speakers. The speakers were families that in some way had been affected by childhood cancer. 

The evening featured three speakers who have been directly touched by childhood cancer: Caroline Hardman, a 2nd-grade teacher at Hancock Elementary, Abigail Navarro, a 9th grade student at the high school, and her family, and Fernando Oms Mendez, also a student at the high school, who talked about his experience battling brain cancer with his family by his side.

On December 29th, 2020, Ms. Hardman’s son was diagnosed with AML Leukemia. Even though there was heartache, Hardman kept a positive attitude. She spoke about how her son had to go through five rounds of chemo over the span of 10 months, resulting in him staying in the hospital for months at a time. But through it all, the two remained optimistic. 

“You will never forget the despair and devastation you feel when you hear the words ‘your child has cancer’,” Hardman said in her speech, who described the experience as “being hit by a truck.”

“But we realized early on, to have a thumbs-up attitude and to really just be positive because your positivity is gonna get you far,” said Hardman.

Junior and NHS member Dane Crook expressed that it was great that the National Honor Society was able to bring awareness to childhood cancer. And as with any event or project, there were struggles present. Crook said the biggest struggle for him was getting people to understand that Mini-THON was an opportunity to raise money so that these children can live just like any other kid.

Gabby Garcia, a senior at NAHS and an officer of the Honor Society, had become very involved in planning this fundraiser. Garcia became very inspired by the Four Diamonds organization and the work they have done for so many families. Garcia explained that when planning the fundraiser, time flew by since it was such an in-depth event to plan. 

“Even though we had many months to plan the event, time did go by really fast, and it was kind of nail-biting to have to wait,” said Garcia.

All in all, Mini-THON was a fun and educational experience for many students and families. There were a lot of emotions felt throughout the night. If you didn’t stop by, you definitely should next year, as NHS hopes Mini-THON will become an annual event at Norristown Area High School.

Note: Layla Chaaraoui, the National Honor Society Mini-THON chair who is quoted in the article, is a copy editor of The Wingspan and contributed to the editing process of this article.