OPINION — Derek Hoyt was just a normal student at Cedar High School. He loves playing in the band and computer programming. Personally, I know Derek from math, band and CCR (college and career readiness) class. He always has kept to himself, but was incredibly smart, talented and kind to his classmates. I have never heard a single word of negativity or hurt uttered towards anyone or anything.
Suddenly, Derek wasn’t in class for a while and nobody had heard from or seen him. We later learned that when a bike accident sent him to the doctor’s office, this is where they discovered that Derek had Osteosarcoma (bone cancer).
Back at Cedar High, in Mrs. Terri Sanders’ new sports and entertainment marketing class, groups of three or four were planning their separate end-of-year event projects. From art exhibits to basketball tournaments, we had, quite begrudgingly to be totally honest, begun making outlines and plans for our various activities for our final grade.
When the student body heard news of Derek’s diagnosis, we immediately scrapped all of the events and began from scratch, brainstorming ideas for a large scale fundraiser.
Mrs. Sanders assigned Riley Juber and myself to be the coordinators and co-event leaders on this project. Our goal quickly became to raise both money and awareness for Derek’s treatment and to show him how much he is loved. Nobody’s mind was on their grade in the class any longer.
Our third period class decided to host a schoolwide flag football game. Dozens of students at the school signed up to play in the game and showed their spirit in their uniforms and in their demeanor. The Pep Band, choir, cheerleaders and drill team quickly joined together with us in our idea, promising to perform that evening.
Community members such as Raquel and Chloe Wilson along with Bo Harwood, who have experienced cancer firsthand, agreed to come and share their message of hope with the crowd at halftime.
Students in our class quickly volunteered for assignments, contacted bosses, friends, and their families, used social media to advertise the flier including the hashtag “#tacklecancer” as well as traveled all over town to many businesses who willingly advertised for this event.
With them, local food vendors and community organizations, from food trucks to dance companies, offered their services and donated to Derek’s cause. Everybody that we contacted wanted to contribute what they could and willingly did so.
When the night of May 11 finally came, we had not only a spectacular turnout, but arguably the largest and most effective fundraiser in Cedar High School’s history. We were able to raise close to $5,500 to support Derek in his treatment and “tackle” of his cancer.
The highlight of the night was when Derek, himself, made a surprise appearance and presented the football to the teams that played. Nobody expected it at all seeing as he had been in the hospital just the day before but, just like many times before in his high school career, Derek surprised us.
Hands down, the most amazing of all the many miracles that have occurred during the planning and execution of this event is the response that both Cedar High School and our community had to this event and what it stood for. We had every kind of student there that night to support Derek and a student section for the books.
Whether you were a jock or a drama kid, you were at the football field that night singing the school song and willingly putting spare change in donation buckets.
Community members, teachers and students donated their time, talents and money to furthering our cause and making the event a huge success.
Families and individuals gave up their evening to come and make a lasting difference in this high school senior’s life.
It was absolutely beyond amazing to watch everybody band together like they did that night and really impact this student’s life in such a monumental way.
As I was running all over the field checking and ensuring that everything was running smoothly, I saw the involvement of the crowd and the people that willingly gave to our cause.
As my “action team” and I were adding up all of the proceeds from the many places that contributed on my cellphone calculator, I saw the tears welling up in everybody’s eyes, including my own, seeing that we had over doubled our projected goal in profit for Derek.
I will never forget that night and the feeling I had and it will definitely be one that I remember my high school experience by forever. It was positively incredible and an honor to be a part of. It is events like this that show what both Cedar High and Cedar City truly are made of.
Submitted by Kaleigh Bronson, 16, Cedar City
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