Graduation season is upon us, that time of year when high school seniors across the nation celebrate the culmination of their secondary education careers with friends and family and hope that in some way they have left their mark upon their school community.
The seniors at Walled Lake Central High School have done just that now that a benefit they organized four years ago to help a fellow student will continue on as one of Central’s charitable fund-raising events.
Four years ago as a freshman, Kaitlin Aldea was diagnosed with leukemia. Her fellow classmates wanted to do something to help, so they organized an event through the school’s Student Council. They had student bands try out and put together a concert with admission set at $5. All proceeds went to Aldea.
“Kaitlin is now completely cancer-free,” said Central Student Activities Director Laura Matousek. “As a senior, she is one of the top in her class. She is thriving.”
Since then, the student council has hosted Kaitlin’s Cause every year to benefit a different member of the Walled Lake Central community.
Past beneficiaries include Central student Drew Clayborn and teacher Kirk Pederson, both of whom became quadriplegics following accidents.
This year’s beneficiary is Brian Jarosz, a junior at Central who battles spinal muscular atrophy, a disease causing progressive muscle weakness.
Jarosz’s life changed in seventh-grade, when he was plagued with fatigue and suffering occasional falls, both early symptoms of the disease. For a boy who used to run and climb and swim, walking up the stairs became a challenge.
Since August 2008, Jarosz’s condition has worsened, further hindering his mobility and independence. To give Jarosz more independence, the Jarosz family needs to make several home modifications, as well as get additional equipment for medical and transportation needs.
To help support Jarosz, Brian’s Battle will be held at the Uptown Grille in Commerce Township from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 22. Tickets are $20 and include admission, food, and live music throughout the night.
There will also be a raffle with prizes featuring a week-long vacation on Marco Island, Fla.; Detroit Tigers and Red Wings tickets; rounds of golf; and specialty baskets filled with gift cards and goodies.
“It’s heartwarming to see how much the community will donate,” said Matousek.
Tickets can be purchased at the door or online at www.wlcstickets.com.