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Hillcrest students spearhead efforts in cancer fundraiser

| Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 10:05 p.m.
Hillcrest Intermediate School students Tyler Funk, left, and Zachary Waugh are selling purple T-shirts to benefit the American Cancer Society. They hope all students across the district will wear the purple on Feb. 4, in observance of World Cancer Day. Submitted photo

Two Hillcrest Intermediate School students hope to turn the Norwin School District purple on Feb. 4 to show their support for those battling cancer.

Fifth grader Zachary Waugh and sixth grader Tyler Funk started the Purple Fighter campaign to observe the national World Cancer Day.

The boys are selling purple T-shirts, adorned with pink boxing gloves, to students throughout the district to benefit the American Cancer Society and the Relay for Life of Norwin.

“We're both part of the Norwin Relay for Life, and we wanted to help them raise more money,” Tyler said. “We thought it'd be nice to let everyone help us support cancer research, and get more people involved.”

Tyler and Zachary, both 11, each got involved with the Relay for Life of Norwin about two years ago by helping teams organize and running games.

Teacher Tammi Bloom helped the two boys organize the shirt sale, print and distribute fliers and handle money.

She had very little to do with the rest of the project, because the boys took it upon themselves to design the T-shirts and fliers, Bloom said.

“We love anything coming from the kids, because we want them to feel empowered,” Bloom said. “We want them to know they can do something to make a difference, so when students come to us, we're always excited.”

The Purple Fighter project caught on, with other schools throughout the district following Zachary and Tyler's lead by observing World Cancer Day, Bloom said.

The popularity of the event did not surprise Bloom, who said a lot of students are involved in the Relay for Life of Norwin.

“People throughout the community have a lot of ties to Relay for Life,” Bloom said. “It's so neat the way these kids are coming up with ways to be advocates for their community and causes.”

Within days of opening shirt sales, students began placing orders, Zachary said.

“The day after I started talking about it, kids were bringing in their money,” he said. “I think we should be able to get a lot of orders in within a couple weeks, because everyone wants to help out people who have cancer.”

Zachary said he wouldn't be surprised if the entire student body at Hillcrest Intermediate School bought a shirt.

Tyler agreed, and said he hopes to see a sea of purple at the school on World Cancer Day.

“It'd be amazing for both of us, because it means we'd make a lot of money for the American Cancer Society,” Tyler said. “It makes us feel special to do this, because we're doing the right thing – helping a great cause.”

Purple Fighter T-shirts are available at the Hillcrest Intermediate School office, or online at Shirts are $6, and orders are due by Wednesday.

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or

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