DEERFIELD – Deerfield High School is known for hosting annual fundraisers that raise large sums of money. On November 28, it kicked off the first day of the 2017 School Chest Charity Drive, which will benefit CURED.
CURED, which stands for “campaign urging research for Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease,” is a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to those suffering from the condition, in which the immune system treats food as a foreign invader. In response to food, the body rapidly produces too many eosinophils, a type of immune cell. Eosinophils attack the gastrointestinal tract and other organs. Individuals with these diseases are often unable to eat most or all foods and can become dependent on feeding tubes or formula diets, according to the School Chest website.
Eliza Cadkin is the benefit chair for School Chest. She and another DHS junior, Emily Connell, suffer from Eosinophilic Disease. Cadkin has been involved with CURED since she was diagnosed in second grade.
“CURED has always been there for me, and student council has always taught me to be there for others, and to have my two worlds collide in such an incredible way means everything to me,” said Cadkin.
Though Cadkin’s doctor originally told her that she would need a gastrostomy tube (G-tube), she does not have one, because she was determined to drink enough formula to avoid having a G-tube put in. This supplemental formula was her only nutrition when she was taken off all food at the age of nine.
Cadkin always has to prepare her own limited selection of food ahead of time, no matter where she goes. Unfortunately, she often feels too sick to attend holiday parties and events.
Remarkably, Cadkin has not let her illness deter her from chairing the benefit dinner and silent auction, which will be held at Venue One North Shore in Deerfield on December 10 at 5 p.m. The event usually takes place at the Hyatt Regency Deerfield, but more space was needed to accommodate about 300 to 350 guests. A doctor will speak on behalf of CURED at the event, and the DHS chorus will perform.
The DHS School Chest will run from November 28 to December 15.
School Chest Co-chair Reed Brockstein said the charity search process began over the summer. The list was narrowed from about 60 applicants to 15 charities, which were interviewed.
“After five charities were selected, the list was brought to student council, which narrowed it down to two charities and the students voted for CURED,” he said.
Brockstein and co-chairs Anna Oettinger and Shula Horton are all DHS juniors who served on the executive board for School Chest last year.
Oettinger said a new event is the Ultimate Warrior, where students compete in challenges, December 5 at 7 p.m. The movie Elf will be shown on the last night of the School Chest Charity Drive, December 14 at 7 p.m.
Horton said there is still time for students to become involved by participating in events. “They can do something as simple as buying food at school where the proceeds go to benefit School Chest.”
Brockstein added that each day will feature a different bake sale from a local vendor during lunch.
“It’s amazing that this is 100 percent student run,” said Mollie Kaplan, School Chest sponsor and DHS math teacher. “These kids have worked really hard and have learned so much.”
Last year, DHS raised $170,756.11 for the Propionic Acidemia Foundation. Propionic acidemia is a rare genetic condition that causes the patient to be unable to break down certain proteins and fats.
Is there a fundraising goal for this year?
“It’s not about the dollar amount – it’s about teaching our community about the importance of giving back,” said Kaplan.
Each of the co-chairs shared what they like most about working on the CURED School Chest Charity Drive.
Horton said, “I think the School Chest raises the spirit of the Deerfield community.”
“It’s great seeing all of us work together toward one cause,” said Oettinger.
Brockstein added, “There’s always something to do every night to engage community members.”
For more information visit: https://www.schoolchest.org.