In honor of National Childhood Awareness Month during September, Stratford High School recently held its Turn It Gold football game to raise funds for the cause and honor cancer warriors.
Honored during the football game, played against Cy-Fair High School, were two future Stratford Spartans, a three-year-old from the Spring Branch community zoned to Wilchester Elementary and a Nottingham Elementary kindergartener. Additionally, six students from Cy-Fair were recognized, including the son of their head football coach.
“This was a special game,” said Raymorris Barnes, Stratford principal. “Our community came together to support these students and their families and empower each other to take action and raise money to continue the battle against childhood cancer.”
Turn It Gold is a nonprofit organization founded by the Dina family after four-year-old Charlie was diagnosed with leukemia. Charlie is now an eighth grader at Memorial Middle School and continues to inspire others as he fights to be cancer-free.
Turn It Gold strives to help victims and their families through their battle with childhood cancer. They are dedicated to fighting for children that have yet to be diagnosed, are currently battling and those who have survived. They have previously partnered with Texas A&M University and Mississippi State University, among others, to fundraise and promote the cause.
The Stratford student body sold spirit t-shirts to raise funds. In total, they raised more than $7,000 for the initiative.
Lauren, a junior at Stratford, led the initiative alongside her classmates. The event planning began in April 2019 when they met with principal Barnes and Stratford football coach Jeffory Rankin to introduce the idea. Over the summer, they brought a club of students together and by the beginning of the school year, the club had more than 40 members.
“Childhood cancer has always been a cause so close to my heart as my family walked through the deep waters with the Dina family,” said Lauren. “There were so many hidden blessings through this entire process, it’s a night I will never forget. To see the community and the entire school rally as one was incredibly rewarding and touching. I am so honored to call myself a Stratford Spartan!”
Students also tied gold ribbons on trees around Stratford and created a Cancer Warrior Wall, where students and staff could connect over loved ones who have fought cancer.
“I put a photo of my dad, a cancer survivor, and within an hour I had a text message from a friend and colleague asking for more information as her dad was currently in a similar fight,” said Megan Wolf, Stratford yearbook advisor and event sponsor. “It was very touching to have made that connection and find support for one another.”
SBISD Athletics also collaborated with Stratford and Turn It Gold to make the football game a success.
“Our department was honored to work behind the scenes to support this initiative. The event highlighted the importance of supporting pediatric cancer research and honored some great heroes,” said Paige Hershey, Executive Director of Athletics. “It was also wonderful to see both football programs and schools collaborate to make this an event that brought our communities together around a common cause. It truly was Collective Greatness at its best!”
View the full album of photos.