It has been on the announcements, posters have been placed, and people have come around to speak on behalf of HawkWing’s latest fundraiser. But this fundraiser is more than just another bracelet sale. Rooted deeply in the care and compassion of the Woodland family, and tells a story of giving back beyond ‘The Hill’. Alissa Becker, Woodland English teacher, initially brought the fundraiser to Woodland with her nephew, Griffin Namin, in mind.
Namin, now 21, was diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of 19. After a series of intensive radiation and chemotherapy, the scans were clear. But as of four months ago, the tumors have reappeared.
Even before his diagnosis, Namin orchestrated events in his high school and college to support different causes. One of the major fundraisers he facilitated was a walk and fundraiser in support of suicide prevention in honor of his best friend, who took their own life. The event raised over $30,000, and represents his kindness and compassion to the community of which he is a part.
“In order to support him, I want to carry [the fundraiser] out for him,” stated Becker. “I called upon my Woodland family to help me in that fight.”
The bracelets, which have “OFBK”, or, “Old Fashion Butt Kicking”, is a reference to Griffin’s strong will during the process of eliminating the tumors.
“After surgery [to remove tumors], we were in the hospital room, and he asked his mother to open up a bag, and he has all these [bracelets], and he starts handing them out,” Becker stated. “He said, ‘I want you to wear it, I want you to pass them out and join in the old fashion butt kicking of cancer!’”
HawkWings, a club distinguished by their support for positive community fundraisers and events, jumped on board to help Becker and Namin in their effort.
Natalie Miranda and Allyson Koliani, two HawkWings members, were some of the helping force to bring this fundraiser to fruition at Woodland.
“We were all so excited to help Mrs. Becker,” stated Natalie Miranda.
“It hit us hard,” stated Allyson Koliani. “It made us want to help her and Griffin.”
Woodland isn’t the only school taking part in the initiative. Pomperaug High School, where Griffin went to high school, is also selling the bracelets in solidarity with the cause through Woodland Gym teacher Joseph Fortier, who also has ties to Pomperaug.
“He’s pretty cool,” highlighted Becker, after Fortier stepped up and asked to be the spokesperson for Pomperaug.
Each bracelet costs $2 each, although additional donations will be accepted. The money will be donated evenly between Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the American Cancer Society. On top of this, a company has agreed to match however much money is raised between Woodland and Pomperaug.
Alongside the bracelets, HawkWing’s encouraged students to “Wear Grey in May” in support of Brain Cancer Awareness, with a “Grey Day” scheduled for Friday, May 17th. A photo was taken during advisory that will be given to Griffin, along with the organizations that the money will be donated to.
Mrs. Becker was overwhelmed with the support given by the community.
“I would like to thank the Woodland faculty, students, and community as a whole for their generosity, kindness, and support in finding a cure for cancer.”