Chapeaus abound at hat cancer fundraiser in Quaker Valley

Students donate to Children's Hospital for privilege of wearing a hat to school

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Sofia Zipparo, a fifth-grader at Osborne Elementary School in the Quaker Valley School District, got to wear a sparkly tiara all day at school on Friday.

It wasn't her birthday, and she wasn't dressed in a princess costume.

She was helping to raise awareness for kids who have cancer.

As part of the regional Wear a Hat for Cancer! event, Sofia was one of many students across the area who wore a hat to school that day in exchange for a donation to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

All of the money raised through the hat fundraiser will support the division of pediatric hematology and oncology at Children's.

Sofia, who also helped to collect the donations at her school, talked about the difficult side effects so many cancer patients experience during treatment.

"I felt bad for the kids that have to go through all of that," she said.

Fifth-grader Allison Zeanchock wore a knitted panda bear cap.

"My aunt had throat cancer," she said.

"I think it's disappointing that people have to suffer with cancer."

This was the second year that Osborne Elementary students participated in the fundraiser.

"It's an important message for kids to learn," principal Barb Mellett said. "It's about kids helping kids."

She said she hopes her students can "learn to help and give back."

Sarah Heres, a member of the Quaker Valley school board and a volunteer at Children's, had a very personal reason for helping with the cause.

"My son had cancer 10 years ago while he was at Edgeworth Elementary School," she said.

"He is now a senior in college," she added with a smile.

"We aren't doing this as much for the money as we are for the awareness," she said.

Osborne Elementary students raised $1,038 through the hat fundraiser. Edgeworth Elementary brought in $1,319, Quaker Valley Middle School raised $297, and the high school raised $440 for a district total of $3,095.

Staff and students in the Highlands School District also took part in the hat-wearing fundraiser and collected $475 in donations for the cancer and blood disorders auxiliary at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation.

The National Honor Society and student council at Highlands High School promoted and collected donations, and those in other school buildings in the district contributed either 50 cents or $1.

According to the foundation, which is the fundraising arm of Children's, all donations, large and small, have a "direct and immediate impact" on the hospital's ability to "transform young lives through unparalleled care and deep compassion."

Looking at all of the funny hats being worn by his classmates on Friday, Quaker Valley fourth-grader Gordon Merriman offered an interesting perspective on Wear a Hat for Cancer!

"Kids with cancer just want to laugh," he said.

Correction, posted Sept. 30, 2013: The spell of Barb Mellett's last name has been corrected.


Shellie Petri Budzeak, freelance writer:


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