Hopefull Hearts for Hatcher
Most Americans think the good old days, when neighbors were close and communities pulled together, is an era that has vanished from modern society. But not in the heart of Edmond, Oklahoma where families, teachers, businesses and churches have rallied support for one of their own, Jessica Hatcher.
The Edmond North High School senior was diagnosed with cancer last year and is determined to win her second battle with the disease that resurfaced on her lungs about two months ago. Ella Voss, fellow English student and close friend, decided to do something about it.
“I was devastated when I first heard about her condition, but then I decided to think positively about it and realized it was an opportunity to step up and help her. Last year, a teacher, Mrs. Wiedenmann, led a fundraiser for Jessica, so I asked for her help,” said Voss. “But this is the first time students have completely taken it over.”
In less than eight weeks, the student-led “Team Jessica” raised $12,000 and they show no sign of slowing down. Students and friends started by asking for donations in their neighborhoods but quickly became more creative.
They’ve sold T-shirts, handmade bracelets and baked goods. At a car wash held in late October, students raised an impressive $2,300. Their latest fundraiser was held during the Powder Puff game in Mid-November, totalling almost $13,600.
Basketball coach and teacher, Katy Korstjens coaches several of Hatcher’s close friends who decided to help with the Powder Puff fundraiser. “Every year the girls get involved in the community and Hopeful Hearts for Hatcher was really important to them. A lot of them are good friends of Jessica’s, so we discussed the idea of 16 teachers and coaches shaving their heads, including two female coaches. They loved it,” she said.
Korstjens was one of them. “They called it, ‘Edmond North is Going Bald.’ Each teacher had a price on their head, $5,000 for the women and up to $200 for men, depending on how much hair he had. Each teacher had a donation bucket in the office,” she explains. “I coach girls basketball at Edmond North and teach 6th grade at Sequoyah and they were so pumped to see me get my head shaved that they went door to door getting donations. I really didn’t want to shave my head,” she laughed, “but I’m glad there was something I could do
This type of overwhelming support from students and the community has helped Hatcher’s outlook. “I was surprised by all of this. It does a lot for me emotionally to know that people are so supportive,” she said.
“When I’m sad and thinking about the way things are right now I remember all the people that are doing these things for me. Ella will text me about something they’re up to when I’m getting ready to go through chemo and it just motivates me to keep going,” said Hatcher.
“She (Jessica) came to the car wash and you could just see it boost her spiritually. I want it to be that for her, not just financial support but I want her to see that we care and we believe in her. She’s always smiling and upbeat,” said Voss.
The school administration is also showing their support by making the school year easier for Hatcher. “When I’m sick, they let me do classes online and when I want to come to school I can. They gave me a lot of options so I’m not stressed about that.”
Korstjens believes that the entire experience has been good for everyone, especially the students who have worked so hard. “It makes you feel good inside to see that Edmond is the kind of community that’s willing to help in whatever way they can,” she said. “It’s good for the kids to see that because not every community they will visit or live in will be like that. When they leave their hometown they’re going to take that perspective with them and be proud they’re from Edmond.”
Hopeful Hearts for Hatcher will continue to raise money and are now planning a benefit concert. Financial donations are being accepted at Edmond North High School. Checks should be addressed to the Edmond North Lady Huskies with Jessica Hatcher’s name listed on the memo line and mailed to 215 W. Danforth Road, Edmond, Oklahoma, 73003-5206.