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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