Sierra Vista students raise thousands for breast cancer research

Students who participated in Denim Day and donated $5 to breast cancer pose for the “Wear Pink” group photo at Sierra Vista Junior High School on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017. Christina Cox/The Signal
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For the past 13 years, students at Sierra Vista Junior High School have worked together to raise money for breast cancer research.

The annual “Denim Day” event encourages students to donate $5 to breast cancer research to receive a pink breast cancer bracelet.

“We’ve probably raised about $1,000 every year,” said Kerry Skoczylas, a math teacher and organizer of the event.  “Over the years we’ve probably raised close to $15,000.”

To motivate the students to rally around the cause, Skoczylas and social studies teacher Ron Ippolito promote the event on Sierra Vista Life, the school’s television program, and in the classroom.

“We share it on our morning video show and we’ve been really promoting it,” said Ippolito who also leads the Sierra Vista Life show.  “The kids have been making fun graphics for it to get the word out.”

Students who participated in Denim Day and donated $5 to breast cancer pose for the “Wear Pink” group photo at Sierra Vista Junior High School on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017. Christina Cox/The Signal

On Friday, Sierra Vista students who donated $5 were invited to wear pink, sport their bracelets and pose for a big group photo on the last day of fundraising.

“You see all the kids with pink bracelets,” Ippolito said.  “Some of us are brightly wearing pink and some of us are more subtly wearing it.”

The cause is a personal one for several teachers and students at the school.  Ippolito lost his mother to breast cancer five years ago and Laura Schmidt, Sierra Vista’s lead campus supervisor, is a breast cancer survivor herself.

“Nine years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I underwent nine months of radiation,” Schmidt said.  “They didn’t think I would survive… It’s because of new technology that I’m alive today, it’s because people donated that I’m here.”

Skoczylas, who runs the event through the school’s community service club, said the fundraising event also encourages students to participate in service activities and get involved.

“It’s a way to get the kids into something important and it’s a way to get them motivated to do nice things for other people,” she said.

Staff who participated in Denim Day and donated $5 to breast cancer pose for the “Wear Pink” group photo at Sierra Vista Junior High School on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017. Courtesy of Sierra Vista Junior High School

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