Keller Citizen

Fort Worth school aims to turn sports world gold

Isabella Flores thanks classmates for their work and support of the Go Gold campaign during the Go Gold pep rally at IL Texas Keller Wednesday morning Mar. 02, 2016. The school hopes to have Childhood Cancer Awareness during September professional sports events.
Isabella Flores thanks classmates for their work and support of the Go Gold campaign during the Go Gold pep rally at IL Texas Keller Wednesday morning Mar. 02, 2016. The school hopes to have Childhood Cancer Awareness during September professional sports events. Special to the Star-Telegram

Like all fourth graders at the International Leadership of Texas Keller charter school, Isabella Flores had to come up with an idea for a service project that could involve her fellow students.

Isabella’s idea caught fire, first among her classmates, then with her whole school and now has grown to draw attention from Major League Baseball, other local sports figures, city officials and more.

The 9-year-old wanted to raise awareness for those fighting cancer, especially other kids.

“I have friends who have cancer. My aunt has cancer and my best friend’s mom has cancer,” Isabella said. “I thought it would be great to ‘Go Gold for Childhood Cancer.’”

Similar to wearing pink in October for breast cancer, several organizations promote the idea of wearing gold in September to raise awareness for childhood cancer.

Students in Isabella’s homeroom with her teacher Leopoldo Perea voted on what they thought would be the best service project to do together. From there, the whole fourth grade adopted the project and students began writing letters to officials with Major League Baseball, the National Football League and collegiate sports.

On Wednesday morning, all the students at the school had a pep rally to promote Go Gold and fighting childhood cancer. LaDainian Tomlinson, former NFL and TCU standout running back; Fort Worth city council members Sal Espino and Cary Moon (both IL Texas Keller parents); Fort Worth Police Officers, Batman a.k.a. Officer Damon Cole of Heroes and Cops Against Childhood Cancer; and mascots from the Texas Rangers and TCU Horned Frogs were among those who attended the event to show their support.

It’s not over until we cure childhood cancer.

Ed Werder, ESPN reporter and parent of a child with cancer

One of the featured speakers was ESPN football reporter Ed Werder. Werder’s daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer at age 12. He told students that just 4 percent of the funds the National Cancer Society receives go to help children and that more needs to be done to fight childhood cancer, which kills more kids than any other disease.

“It’s not over until we cure childhood cancer,” Werder said.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred told school officials that teams could wear gold ribbons on their uniforms in September to support the fight against childhood cancer.

IL Texas Keller Principal Pete Chapasko said that the fourth graders got a great response from a letter writing campaign to sports officials, but “we’re not going to stop there.”

Now all 1,400 students (grades kindergarten through eighth) will send letters to officials from many different sports to try to get more organizations involved.

Chapasko said that the drive to raise awareness and fight childhood cancer exemplifies the school’s mission of turning students into servant leaders.

“I’m proud of all our students, teachers, staff, parents and community,” Chapasko said. “This is a true team effort and shows what makes our school so great.”

Sandra J. Engelland: 817-390-7323, @SandraEngelland

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