FOCO Cure fights to end childhood leukemia


The flashlights of students phones light up the gym to represent the many people who have been affected by cancer.

Students at South Forsyth teamed up with the community to join the fight against Leukemia and Lymphoma. The organization’s 2018 Students Of The Year, Ross Ashby, Jake Hale, and Watson Kimmel are raising money to combat Leukemia with their campaign FOCO Cure. Their goal is to raise $15,000 in the span of seven weeks. While they recognize that this is a difficult goal, they have already made great strides in accomplishing some of their milestones.

The assembly started not with speeches, but with Don, Connor’s father, asking the audience to turn on their phone flashlights. The room shone bright with all of the phones lifted. Don then told those who know others with cancer to keep their lights on. Only a few lights diminished. Those who had been diagnosed with cancer were asked to keep their lights on; only four lights remained. One of those four was Connor. Don then presented a slide in his presentation that stated one in 273 kids will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 21. During this presentation Piper Medcaff told the students some life-changing demographics. 1.2 million people in America are living with blood cancer. Approximately every three minutes a person is diagnosed with blood cancer and every nine minutes someone dies because of their blood cancer. These alarming statistics clearly grabbed the attention of South’s student body, and many began to wonder what could be done to help.

Afterwards, the focus shifted to the three students who were selected as students of the year. Ross Ashby began by introducing the Story of Alyssa, a student at Houston County High School in Warner Robbins, Georgia, who has been afflicted by Leukemia. LLS provided her with the help and facilities to ensure that she continues on her road to remission. Then the second student, Jake Hale, provided statistics about Leukemia and Lymphoma such as the fact that in the last 50 years the 5 year survival rate for Leukemia has risen from three percent to ninety percent. And Watson Kimmel concluded the presentation by introducing their initiative. The students hope to raise $15,000 over a seven week time span that includes initiatives such as raffles and sponsor nights at restaurants.

At South Forsyth, awareness for this disease was inspired when junior Connor McMann came forward about being diagnosed with leukemia. In January of 2005, Connor was diagnosed with leukemia and was told by his doctors that he likely would not survive his cancer. After this frightening diagnosis, L.L.S (Leukemia and lymphoma society) stepped in to help his family understand the process. After fighting his first battle, Connor and his family were told that he had beat his cancer. However, in 2012 he was once again diagnosed with this disease. He again fought this battle and was victorious. His family was now sure that they would never interact with Cancer again until his it returned for a third time in 2016. His family hopes that he has beat it for the last time. Connor used to dream about being a professional hockey player and now because of the help that the L.L.S. has provided him with, he plays goalie for one of the top 10 teams in the nation. Ever since Connor had the chance to achieve his dreams, he has started working with a self created charity called Connor’s Hope to raise money for other kids facing Leukemia.

FOCO Cure will soon have a website open for donation. In the meantime, these students have advocated for others to step outside of their comfort zone to inform others about their cause and to collect donations. Students are incentivized to help the cause with raffle tickets for $100 gift cards and sponsor nights at restaurants. Watson remarks “if all students and faculty donate 5 dollars they can surpass their goal of $15,000 by $2,000.”