Fort Fights Cancer Week was a project I had to take on by myself the past year. It’s an event that Fort Osage High School puts on to raise money for cancer. Everything was on me including the end result, whether that be a success or a failure that would teach me something in the process. I helped organize it in the past, as well as other events like such, but never had I taken something like that on by myself with no help from really anyone.
My teacher informed me that she wanted to change the organization we would donate to due to poor experience with the organization we had been working with in the past. This started the long process of the event in the school year prior to the event. I didn’t receive much direction from my teacher other than she wanted the money to go to local children, so it meant to me that I had to do some research and see what I could find that would fit the small description she gave me.
After a couple hours of research I had finally found an organization that worked, which I then figured out that meant I needed to email the organization to discuss what it was we were doing and to make sure the organization would be willing to collaborate with us and allow us to donate all of our proceeds to them. I received a response from them saying they were on board. The next part of my process, still in the year prior, was to have a conversation with the athletic director and find a week in which all three sports, football, volleyball, and soccer, had a home game in the month of October.
After deciding on a date, it concluded everything I needed to get done and set before the next school year. There wasn’t much I did for the event over the summer other than a few ideas which had ran through my mind. Coming into the next school year to work on this project was a hard thing to do for me. Right when we came back we were split into homecoming committees, ultimately meaning I would have to work on the project entirely outside of class on top of trying to balance classes, work, National Honor Society, being a football trainer, and being a homecoming chairperson.
Just the simple thought of this stressed me out, and at some points I thought I wouldn’t be able to take this all on by myself, it was a lot to try to balance at one time and would take a lot of self motivation overall to get the job done, but I knew in the back of my mind that I had to. Trying to figure out my operating system and how I worked created some bumps in the road for myself. I was never one to really plan ahead with most things or get them done in advance, I tended to procrastinate generally, but that was one thing I couldn’t do in this case.
For projects in Student Council our teacher would usually give us time in class to work on them; however, mine being during the homecoming planning time, that would not be the situation. Everything I did, I had to do outside of school whether it was making publicity for the event, meeting with my teacher to discuss and tell her how the week was going to go, finding ideas of things to do throughout the week, meeting with staff who would contribute during the week, delivering t-shirts, etc. Trying to accomplish it all on my own time was a hard thing to do, especially by myself.
I had a couple people say they could help me or would work with me on the project some, but I wanted to do it on my own by this point. Like Joshua D. Green said in his article “Deep Pragmatism”, “but teamwork is also problematic, because there is always the temptation to pull for yourself instead of the team; that’s the fundamental problem of cooperation. ” (Green) This was where I was at. I wanted help on the project, but I also wanted to just pull for myself and be able to say I did it on my own rather than with a team.
It sounded bad and almost selfish, but it was what I was honestly thinking having done all the work for the event thus far. It’s okay to be selfish sometimes, but it’s also okay to ask for help when thoughts are bigger than reality and help is needed despite how much that something is wanted to be done alone. I had to entirely take responsibility for this task. It ended up causing my grades to slip in my classes, stress levels to rise, and a loss of a lot of sleep. The classes in which my grades were slipping, my teachers began talking to me about it.
I was focusing more on this and other things than I was my grades and spending time planning the event instead of using that time to do homework and it started to hurt me in school. That alone was a lesson within itself, and it made me really have to think about my priorities and what came first. I had so much going on I couldn’t correctly balance it as how I should. There was one point in the process I felt everything falling on top of me. It was the week before homecoming and we were doing pre-orders for Fort Fights Cancer shirts at lunch.
I got out of my fourth hour to go help the people working the lunch shifts set up and explain everything to them. I went to get the money box from the office and brought it to the lunch room and before I was about to head back to my class, one of the students who volunteered to work the lunch shifts brought to my attention that there, in fact, was no money in the money box; this therefore meant we couldn’t give people change. I went to go talk to my Student Council teacher to see if she had the money.
When I told her what the issue was, her simple reply was, “yeah, I thought about that this morning and you never told me you needed money so I thought I’d let you learn on your own. ” I just looked at her with a dumbfounded look on my face. I had never done this before, every time I sold something at lunch the money was just always already in the box; I had no idea how she expected me to just know I was supposed to set that up before hand because I knew she knew we were going to be selling the shirts.
At that very point, all of the stress hit me at one time like a wrecking ball. We were still three weeks away from the actual event and I didn’t know how much more I could handle. But I knew I had to just suck it up, fight through it, and do whatever I had to do to make the event successful. Stepping out of my comfort zone, striving from traditions, messing with the system, and trying something new is always a scary thought; but it was all something I intended to do with this project.
Most of them were little but even the little things can make a difference and I didn’t know how my school and community would react. The first part of the change was it was no longer “Pink Out Week” for breast cancer awareness, it was going to be “Fort Fights Cancer” to recognize all cancers, something that I hadn’t seen other schools doing so it was all new to me; new ideas, new organization, new theme, I couldn’t necessarily “piggyback” off of other schools, it had to be all me.
Doing this I decided to tweak the system a little bit and see what I could do to add to the fun that this event could bring our school. I created a week that was more than just selling t-shirts, 50/50 raffles, and collecting money at the home games during that week; I found a way to raise money every day at lunch, each one having a different theme, so to speak, in ways that might interest our students.
All of the small events I did during lunch were donation based, which I personally was surprised by the amount that our student body had donated by the end of each day, as well as altogether by the time Friday came along. By the time the week came around, I really had no idea how it would go. We had changed the color of the shirts from pink for breast cancer to lavender to represent all cancers therefore I didn’t know if our student body would necessarily like them and I had created a week full of activities with the opportunity to donate, those were the two main changes I had made.
I knew going into the week it was going to be stressful, but with the bumps in the road with complications of myself not being able to attend certain things due to pre-scheduled events and having to find someone who could take on me role of me for the night, as well as miscommunication with some groups, and things that were out of my control and up to my teacher that she didn’t quite follow through with, it made that week even more stressful than I had expected. Which is why, by the end of it one could say I was wiping the sweat off my forehead with a sigh of relief that it was over and the stress was gone.
In years past, we had generally raised one to three thousand dollars to donate to our organization. However, having changed so much this year as well as taking out some ways in which we had received donations, we were at about eight hundred dollars to donate; until the football team informed me they were very generously going to donate five hundred dollars to help support the organization we were donating to, raising our overall donation to an average of fourteen hundred dollars.
With all that this event had entailed and having taken in all on by myself, I personally found it to be quite successful by the end of it. Responsibility was something that I had always known, but taking on this really taught me responsibility but on a whole new level. To most people, it wouldn’t seem that way. However, when being in control of an event that the community looks forward to and is an annual thing that happens, being the sole person responsible puts a lot on one. I was responsible for the success or failure of this event, and I had to take that seriously.
No matter how much I wanted to do it by myself, I needed help and I hated asking for it; but I learned that there’s nothing wrong with getting some outside help and/or ideas from others, in fact, it can actually benefit the outcome. Pull for the team, not yourself. I learned quite a bit about myself throughout this process. I had to take a step outside of my comfort zone and be in charge when I was so used to being in the background and being the one who assisted whoever was the person in charge.
This may not have been the best time or way to figure out how I operate, but I had to work with what I had and make things go the way they needed to. Everything isn’t always going to be sunshine and rainbows, there’s going to be bumps along the road but it doesn’t mean those bumps can’t be crossed. I never thought I’d have so much to balance at one time, and that was one thing I overall failed at during this time. I let my grades slip because I chose to focus more on my community involvement than school.
I had to accept it on the other hand, and figure out how to balance so much and get my priorities set straight, which is still a working progress, but I’m learning and this event set the stage for that process. Something so small and simple, can teach so much, and that’s what happened to me in this situation with how I operate, the responsibilities I can handle, how much I can ultimately take on at one time, and who I am as a person.