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One Voice

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One Voice

In a show of solidarity, students wear bracelets that were provided free of charge by students who opposed the fundraiser.

In a show of solidarity, students wear bracelets that were provided free of charge by students who opposed the fundraiser.

In a show of solidarity, students wear bracelets that were provided free of charge by students who opposed the fundraiser.

In a show of solidarity, students wear bracelets that were provided free of charge by students who opposed the fundraiser.

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In the darkness of a Thursday morning I woke an hour before I usually would. I got out of bed, more ready to face the day than usual. I picked out a nice shirt, laced up my Chucks and headed out into the dark, ready to stand against the opinion of others.

Every Thursday morning, ASB meets to approve funds clubs have requested from purchases to fundraisers. I had heard the day before, that a group within ASB motioned to sell Breast Cancer Awareness bracelets for profit and that bothered me. It wasn’t so much the selling that bothered me, but the amount that would actually go to Breast Cancer Awareness.

The bracelets would be purchased for 60 cents, sold for two dollars, with only a quarter (possibly fifty cents) being donated per bracelet to Breast Cancer Awareness, leaving ASB with a profit of $1.15 (or .90, if they donated .50). To put this in perspective, for every hundred bracelets sold, ASB would profit $115 and only donate $25 of the $140 total.

This struck me as unethical and morally irresponsible. I am aware that there are organizations out there who do make profit from the donations of others, but these organizations make huge contributions and are staffed in thousands. The contributions our ASB would raise, do not compare, which is why I walked into ASB’s meeting, a meeting every student has a right to attend, on my own accord, and without invitation.

When the issue was brought up at their seven o’clock meeting, they asked if anyone would like to open it up for discussion, at which point I raised my hand. I didn’t prepare a speech or write out notes, what I said was short, to the point, and in the moment. I asked if they were comfortable with making money off of cancer. “Cancer is a serious disease, and you should not be allowed to profit from it.”

There was a long pause after my comments, a stillness in the air, as if no one had expected anyone to speak against the status quo, to feel so strongly about the issue. In that room, at that moment,  I learned the true meaning of the saying “You could cut the tension with a knife.”

Finally a voice came up from the silence. It said I had the right to my opinion, but in the end it was ASB’s vote that counted. I got the sense that any dissenting opinions rarely reared their ugly heads in an ASB meeting.

The vote went up and they asked for all who were in favor of passing it, despite my comments, to say “Aye.” And again the theater fell silent. Following a long pause, the question was asked again, and again there was silence. Then, they asked for those who opposed, and under everyone’s breath came “Nay.” Feeling as if the mic had been dropped, I strapped on my backpack, and walked out of the theater.

Later that day, someone from the meeting walked up to me saying that had been the first time anything was voted down. One voice, caused something to change. Too many of us believe that one alone cannot stand, but when your cause is just, people will follow.

I have reason to feel so strong for this. I have been working with the Relay for Life in Hollister for a number of years now, with a group known as Esther’s Angels. Esther’s Angels was founded in memory of my grandmother, a victim of cancer and we have not kept a single dime of what we raised. Cancer isn’t a vehicle for profit, it’s a disease that affects millions.

Now, I would like to emphasize that I am in no way attacking the officers of ASB, the committee who proposed the fundraiser, or those who didn’t see it as I did. I also understand that ASB is a business and businesses need to make money, in this case, for school functions.  But I also know that families lose loved ones to cancer, I know first-hand what that feels like. And I know how hard those families work to fundraise for cancer research and cancer awareness, with the hope that one day, someone else’s family won’t have to go through what they had to.

Taking everything into consideration, my opinion stands firm. Cancer is a serious disease and using the name while donating such a small portion to the cause is a hollow gesture. There are people, like me, whose lives have been deeply changed by cancer. And that is not something to profit upon.  I would challenge any group who wants to make a donation to any charity – be it Cancer, ALS, or Alzheimer’s – needs to make it meaningful, a donation that exceeds any profit.

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32 Comments

32 Responses to “One Voice”

  1. lexi on October 10th, 2014 3:15 pm

    Great to see you standing up for what you believe in! Good job

  2. Alisal Wrestling on October 10th, 2014 3:34 pm

    Challenge accepted.

  3. Linda Gomez on October 10th, 2014 3:51 pm

    Kudos to you Nate for taking a stand on what you felt was not moral or ethical. You are one voice who made a difference. Always remember this day when you made a change.

  4. Flip on October 10th, 2014 4:06 pm

    I totally agree with Nathaniel’s point of view. This would make it seem as though ASB is profiting from cancer. We need to teach the youth of america what true north is on the ethical compass. I applaud u Nathaniel, for your opinion and courage of conviction.

  5. Elias Gomez on October 10th, 2014 4:16 pm

    Nate, I completely agree with your point of view. I think you are bold to stand against ASB and win. Great job!

  6. cesar martin del campo on October 10th, 2014 4:30 pm

    This what the world needs to hear. Nate this awesome and I’m on your side all the way.

  7. Lucia Valdivias on October 10th, 2014 4:30 pm

    Great Article! I know firsthand what it is like to lose someone to cancer. For the last few years, I have participated in many fundraisers to help raise money for cancer research in hopes of finding cures. We donate 100% of all our proceeds to the American Cancer Society. To fundraise for Cancer Research is not for a personal gain of money, but it is for a person gain of accomplishment to know you are helping others fight this ugly disease. Cancer affects not only the individual battling but the family that supports the person battling. I support the writer of this article because they felt so passionate about something and were not afraid to stand up and act alone. One voice can make a difference, so do not be afraid to stand up for what you believe!

  8. Brian on October 10th, 2014 5:04 pm

    I agree with your point of view cancer is a serious controversial issue that shouldn’t be used for profit

  9. Fernando on October 10th, 2014 5:14 pm

    Way to stand up and speak what you believe. I don’t think ASB should keep any of that money, they should just donate all the money to cancer. I’ve had family members that have died of cancer and its something serious that i dont think anyone should be making profit of it.
    -Alumni Class of 2014

  10. Rocio on October 10th, 2014 5:31 pm

    Happy to see leadership initiative come out! Good Job Nate! team pink ban!!

  11. Anon on October 10th, 2014 5:34 pm

    You have such an amazing point and you are so right to stand up for what you believe in 100%!! However, all I hope is that people don’d judge all ASB students for the actions of 1 or 2 because not all have the same beliefs or opinions. Also, you said that this was the first time something was denied well to respond to this, this was the only time something should have been denied because everything else was correctly filled out and submitted and ASB has nothing against one person or one group that ASB would just deny for no reason. Anyways, all i ask is don’s blame all of ASB for ones actions or response! Great article though!!

  12. Amie on October 10th, 2014 5:42 pm

    Absolutely and completely agree with you. I am also incredibly proud of you for voicing your opinion and standing up for what you believe. It is very true that so many people think that they can’t change anything on their own. All it takes is one voice.

  13. Anna Abad on October 10th, 2014 5:55 pm

    Very proud of this young man, you were able to make others really think about what they were doing. I am sure they never saw it this way as they changed their vote, good for you! I am sure your grandmother is smiling down at you.

  14. Diego Ramirez on October 10th, 2014 5:59 pm

    This has greatly inspired me…….. one voice, saying so little but meaning so much. It feels like this will be something that will always be remembered at Alisal High School. Standing up for what is right….

  15. Hohmann on October 10th, 2014 7:30 pm

    Aye. Sooooooo I’ve written a paper similar to this on sports teams endorsing “non-profit” organizations. You really have to do your research when donating to charities. I agree with this op-ed piece considering cancer isn’t a business, it’s a life-changing, sometimes, unfortunately, a life-ENDING disease. Here are some links I used on my essay that were eye-opening:

    http://www.tampabay.com/americas-worst-charities/

    https://sports.vice.com/article/the-nfls-pink-october-does-not-raise-money-for-cancer-research

    http://thinkbeforeyoupink.org/ <<<<<a biggie

    And kudos to you Nate for speaking up and making sure your school doesn't endorse this kind of behavior!!!!!

    -Sarah,
    Undergraduate English/Art Double Major
    University of California, Davis.

  16. Alexis on October 10th, 2014 8:15 pm

    Inspiring!! Way to speak your mind, Nate! I completely agree. Amazing how one person’s voice can make a big difference. We need more of this in the community. ASB needs to grow a conscience. Keep it up, Nate!! 😀

  17. Crystal on October 10th, 2014 8:55 pm

    Totally agree with you!!! It takes an amazing person to stand up and speak their mind. Your seriously an incredible guy. I support you 100% go Nate..

  18. Kike on October 10th, 2014 9:53 pm

    I totally agree with you nate. I also think that ASB should give donate all the money. I think that making money off of something very serious like cancer is not cool.

  19. lilian on October 10th, 2014 11:46 pm

    I think this is awesome! I feel like more people should be able to go against a group’s opinion and stick to what they believe. I totally agree with you! Anyways good job!

  20. Rebecca Berber on October 10th, 2014 11:59 pm

    Hi Nate, I just want to say you did an amazing thing. Like you I don’t believe anyone should profit from cancer. Its a horrible shadow that forever extinguishes the light of many lives. I have lost family members to cancer and my greatest loss was that of my dad 3yrs ago. I would hate to know that someone profited from his death and the pain of my family. I believe that if you want to donate then donate directly to organizations that will send the money to were it needs to go. Nobody should get to pocket a single penny from cancer. I hope you continue speaking your mind and telling it how it is. Thanks again for speaking up, you have made the future brighter.
    -Alumni Class of 2002 –

  21. Marcos Cabrera on October 11th, 2014 1:08 pm

    Great job Nate. I’m very proud of you. You’ve proven the power of your voice in the face of opposition. That takes true Trojan Pride.

  22. Nancy on October 11th, 2014 2:16 pm

    Very powerful and inspiring. So sorry for your loss.

  23. Jacinta Chang on October 11th, 2014 5:41 pm

    Hi Nate! Can I just say that this article hits me in a special way, for my mom is a two-time survivor of breast cancer. Thus, it means so much to me that you are taking a stand to help. Thank you so much, and what happened in your situation goes to show that one voice really can make a change!

  24. leandra on October 11th, 2014 7:33 pm

    I absolutely agree with you.

  25. Traci Mullins on October 12th, 2014 10:40 am

    Well said! You are an inspiration to many and your Grandmother would be so proud of you, as the rest of your family is too! Never be afraid to stand up for what you believe in. If it matters to you then it is worth standing up for. Great article!

  26. Kelly Song on October 12th, 2014 11:08 am

    Nate I just wanted to express how much this article inspired me. As you know, I run my own charity for a school in Kenya, and I can say with confidence that we donate every penny to our charity. But for years now our ASB has denied me a position as a club, because they tell us that all clubs that make money must use it on themselves. Basically, no fundraising clubs allowed. We could have so many more opportunities to fundraise if we were just given access to these resources. Your article has helped me realized how powerful my own voice can be, and I am inspired to publish an op-ed on this issue myself. The world would be such a better place if we could all think of ourselves less, and give more to those in need.

  27. Tammie on October 13th, 2014 9:16 pm

    What a remarkable example of the power of one’s voice! Congratulations Nathaniel for recognizing the downside of this particular method of fundraising and having the courage to question it’s validity.

  28. Nancy on October 14th, 2014 12:52 pm

    Explain -.-

  29. Ken Fittro on October 14th, 2014 2:13 pm

    I lost both of my parents to lung cancer. I am amazed with the VOICE that Nathaniel has given to a cause that effects nearly every family in America. You are young in age young man, but you are a Man in your convictions. Thank you.

  30. Valerie on October 15th, 2014 9:26 am

    I’m proud of u for speaking out about something that’s so important to you. If any orgination is use to profit from it should be at least 50/50. Should be policy. We all have a voice and should be able to give our thought on a subject. That’s why it is open for discussion at meetings. I’m proud of my grandson it gave everyone something to think about and after thinking give their opinion. Great job.

  31. Iris Hung on October 25th, 2014 11:48 pm

    You did an amazing job on speaking out your opinion, Nate. Thank you for standing up for not only yourself, but everyone who has been effected by cancer. If anyone is ever going to state that they are raising money for a charity, all profits should proceed to the charity. It’s immoral to do otherwise, like what your ASB did. I’ve lost many of my friends and family to cancer like my best friend Chris and my uncles. So thank you again for speaking up, even if it is just one voice because it only takes one voice to spark change.

  32. Madame on October 26th, 2014 3:20 pm

    Nate, that was courageous of you to go on your own to the ASB meeting and present your opinion on an issue close to your heart. You both enlightened and gave pause for reflection. The outcome of the vote demonstrates that one person can serve as a catalyst for change. Bravo!

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