David and Ingrid Hartz were overcome with a flood of emotions as they stood together on the 50-yard line of Tully Stadium. Surrounded by their loved ones, friends, and a supportive community, their hearts were full as they received a generous $20,000 check from Turn It Gold, a local nonprofit that originated in the Spring Branch community.
This heartfelt moment took place during Stratford High School's Gold Out football game, a meaningful event dedicated to raising funds and awareness for pediatric cancer. The game also served as a touching tribute to their son Miles, who tragically lost his battle with Osteosarcoma this past June.
“Seeing Miles’ legacy and his memory here this year at Stratford…that’s so wonderful,“ David Hartz said. “The comfort and the love that we feel in the community has been overwhelming and much needed for us and this was a crescendo of all of that.”
Miles would have been a senior this year. During the game, there was also a ceremony to recognize 12-year-old Scarlett Filippov, who is in remission after battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and Stratford freshman Kaden Pointer, whose brain cancer has been in remission for three years. Both were honored with bravery medals engraved with their names and the Turn It Gold battle cry.
Michelle Payne, Director of Marketing for Turn It Gold, explained, “We believe that brave individuals inspire others. The bravery medals are a vital way for our organization to honor those fighting this disease. We celebrate the tremendous courage they have shown in their battle with cancer.”
In this moment, the community not only came together to remember Miles but also to celebrate the resilience and bravery of Scarlett and Kaden. It was a powerful demonstration of unity and compassion in the face of adversity.
Turn It Gold was born out of the inspiring story of Charlie Dina, who battled stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma at the age of 4 and is now thriving as a freshman at Stratford High School. The organization has contributed nearly $2 million to cancer research over the years. With the unwavering support of Principal Raymorris Barnes, the Spartans are taking charge and making a difference.
“They are the ones making announcements. They are the ones taking collections. They are the ones that are the driving force behind sharing the message about why we need to fight hard for all the families affected by pediatric cancer.”
Last year, the school successfully raised over $7,000 for Turn It Gold. This year, they went even bigger, raising $20,000 through various activities such as T-shirt sales, a dress-up week, a pep rally, the Gold Out football game and a research donation from Turn It Gold. All funds raised will go towards supporting the Osteosarcoma Institute through the Miles of Hope Osteosarcoma Fund.
Lauren Payne, a student at Stratford High, was deeply impacted by her close friend Charlie Dina’s struggle with childhood cancer. This experience fueled her determination to bring love and support to those affected by this devastating illness. Inspired by her mother Michelle Payne and Angela Dina, Charlie's mother, Lauren got involved in Turn It Gold.
“I always go back to Stratford America,” said Lauren. “Stratford has been something important to me. Seeing the fans filled with gold and Tully turn gold is an incredible sight. I can’t really explain it. But showing people that they are loved and that they are cared for is great.
The overwhelming support from the entire Stratford High community in rallying behind this cause fills Lauren with immense pride. She sees Stratford and SBISD as her cherished home, where compassion and solidarity shine brightly.
The goal of Stratford High School and the Spartans Turn it Gold initiative is to elevate childhood cancer awareness to the same level as breast cancer and heart disease. They invite everyone to join them in turning it gold this month and making a difference in the lives of children battling cancer.
- For more information on the Miles of Hope Osteosarcoma Fund, visit their website.
- Visit the Turn it Gold website to learn more.