Trinity Catholic School teacher Shannon McCarthy is marking six months of being cancer-free after undergoing treatment for stage 2 breast cancer.
Trinity students held Pink Out Day on Oct. 25, culminating a week of fundraising events to support the American Cancer Society.
The week's activities were planned by the student council at the school near Grandview Heights.
"We wanted to do something to show our support for one of our best teachers and also to support people who have recovered from cancer or who are still being treated for cancer," said eighth-grader and student council vice president Madilyn Dickson.
McCarthy, who teaches fourth and fifth grades at the school, was diagnosed at the beginning of last school year.
"I spent pretty much the entire school year going through chemo, then radiation," she said. "Along the way, the students, staff and families were a huge source of encouragement for me. I was showered with prayers, gifts, cards and hugs."
This school year, McCarthy said, she wanted to help encourage a schoolwide fundraising campaign as a way to give back and give thanks after her successful treatment.
Student council members chose the American Cancer Society as the beneficiary of the fundraising effort.
"Some students have been touched by breast cancer, but everyone has been touched by some form of cancer, so that's the reason for choosing the American Cancer Society," McCarthy said.
The activities planned for the week of Oct. 21 were serious in purpose but were designed to be fun, said eighth-grader and student council president Sarah Qemalli.
Mission accomplished, she said.
"It was especially fun to see how people would come dressed up each day," Sarah said.
Each day had a different dress-up theme, with pink being a common factor, she said.
On Oct. 21, students were encouraged to wear pink socks; Oct. 22, the student council began selling pink bracelets and bandannas students could wear throughout the week, as well as pink pens, Sarah said.
Oct. 25 was Pink Out Day, in which students could come dressed all in pink.
The bracelets were selling like hotcakes, Madilyn said, as were the pink Pop-Tarts and strawberry milk offered for breakfast.
"The breakfast was huge," she said. "People were also buying a lot of pens. There were probably 50 pink pens in my classroom, and we only have 14 students."
Pink didn't necessarily need to be part of a student's wardrobe Oct. 22, which was Dress as a Literary Character Day.
"We had a lot of people dressed up like the Cat in the Hat, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Amelia Bedelia," Sarah said. "During lunch, we did Mix it Up Day and had people dressed with the same theme sit together at a table, like all the Cat in the Hat people sitting together."
Mix it Up Day is a national program promoting tolerance that encourages schools to set aside a lunch period when students are encouraged to dine with youngsters they don't usually interact with, McCarthy said.
Students were asked to bring in hats, scarves and gloves beginning Oct. 23 that will be forwarded to patients going through treatment at Jasonway Oncology in Columbus, she said.
On Oct. 24, Trinity students created cards to send to cancer patients and survivors and wrote down on pink paper hearts the ways they are helping people battling cancer, McCarthy said.
The hearts were posted on a wall of the school cafeteria along with signs students designed to show their support for the fight against cancer, Madilyn said.
Each Friday, Trinity holds a school assembly to start the day, which includes a "newscast" in which different sets of students each week share what's been happening in their classrooms.
On Oct. 25, students shared some of the messages written on the pink hearts and offered their schoolmates some facts and figures about cancer, McCarthy said.
While the final tally still is being made, it's a certainty Trinity will exceed the $500 fundraising goal the student council had set for the week, Sarah said.
"This week has had a big impact on our school and on students," she said. "It's brought us together for a good cause and to show our respect for Mrs. McCarthy."
"I think you'll see people carry this forward next year, and they'll think more about what they can do to help cancer patients and the American Cancer Society even after Pink Out Week is over," Madilyn said.
The student council already is planning another fundraising program -- a Purple Out -- for next month to honor Sean McCreary, the father of seventh-grader Cece McCreary and her sister, Gabbie, who served as student council president last school year, she said.
Sean McCreary died from pancreatic cancer in November 2018.
In January 2019, Trinity launched a fundraising effort to support the Columbus chapter of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network as part of its observance of Catholic Schools Week.
When the campaign finished at the end of April, students had raised $1,500, far exceeding their goal of matching a $500 grant offered by the Ohio Catholic Federal Catholic Union to support their effort.
Trinity Catholic School, 1440 Grandview Ave. in Columbus, serves the St. Christopher, Our Lady of Victory, St. Margaret of Cortona and St. Francis of Assisi parishes. It holds classes for students in grades K-8.