Campuses across the Comal Independent School District traditionally host campaigns to raise not only money but also awareness of childhood cancer during the month of September, which is known as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
One of the main reasons the district continues to be invested in this effort is because of students within its own borders who have been diagnosed with cancer and who continue to fight and show amazing courage and strength every day. Even during this time of social distancing, campuses found ways to honor and celebrate them.
Going Gold Pep Rally
On Sept. 24, Davenport High School hosted a Going Gold Pep Rally for all students within its feeder pattern who have been impacted by childhood cancer. This includes students from Garden Ridge Elementary, Morningside Elementary and Danville Middle School.
Two students were celebrated that day including 6-year-old Jaden Leihsing, a first grade-student at Johnson Ranch Elementary, whose mother, Kristin Leihsing is the academic dean at DHS, and Charlie Bordisso, 14, a ninth-grade student at DHS.
Bordisso is an 11-year cancer survivor who was diagnosed with retinoblastoma at age 3. His years of chemotherapy have left him with lifelong side effects which he continues to battle. Currently, his cancer is in remission.
Jaden, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) at the age of 4, received the best back-to-school news of all when told he was cancer free. In August, Jaden had his chemotherapy port removed after two years, two months and two days from receiving it, and he was given the good news. While his immune system is in the process of rebuilding, he and his twin sister, Emma, are enjoying in-person school together this year, and he is back enjoying the things he loves including a day on the lake with his family.
Jaden’s story will continue to inspire others to join the fight against childhood cancer as he serves as this year’s Student of the Year Honored Hero for the South Central Texas Region of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. His story will be shared in this year’s campaigns to bring awareness to local blood cancer patients. Currently, Comal ISD has one Student of the Year campaign candidate, Nicholas Long, a senior at Canyon High School, and is actively looking for more. High school students who are interested should contact Lexi Read, the LLS campaign development director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Going Gold Pep Rally
Not to be outdone, students and staff members at Canyon High School rallied to raise money for childhood cancer awareness in September and to honor one of their own, Abby Owens, who is battling a cancer diagnosis of her own.
The CHS Student Council pitted grades against each other to see which grade level could raise the most money for Abby. The senior class won and earned the chance to ice Principal Dustin Davisson. In total, the Cougars donated $394.40 to their classmate, and Davisson took the ice bucket over his head in stride.
Abby, 17, who loves art and music, is a junior this year at CHS. Diagnosed with ALL at the age of 3, she underwent extensive chemotherapy for five years when an abnormal chromosome was discovered in her bone marrow. She attended Freiheit Elementary and Church Hill Middle School while continuing to be monitored by doctors, and for three years, she was cancer free.
In the fall of 2019, the cancer returned. Classified as a molecular relapse because the cancer cells were found in her marrow, not her blood, the family turned to a treatment option that wasn’t viable for her the first time around – a bone marrow transplant.
This time, Abby’s three older half siblings were tested and found to be perfect half matches, and in May, her sister, Caitlin Cote, 25, donated her marrow. Science finally caught up, explained her mother, Jessica Owens; and today, science cured her.
While Abby will stay home this year as a remote learner while her body continues to accept the new marrow and her immune system gets stronger, she looks forward to walking the halls of CHS as a senior next year.
Both Abby and Jessica are thankful for the teachers, staff and students from across the district who have sent her gifts and notes of encouragement.
“I want to give a huge ‘thank you’ to our Comal ISD family for all the years of support, encouragement and understanding,” Jessica said. “Her teachers continued to give her the best education with compassion. This is an amazing community.”
DavissonCHSBucket.jpeg – Canyon High School Principal Dustin Davisson happily takes an ice bucket on his head for Childhood Cancer Awareness month.
JadenLeihsing.jpeg – First-grade student Jaden Leihsing was given the good news that he is cancer free in August.
DHSFootballTeam Going Gold (1).jpeg – The Davenport High School football team wore their gold in support of Childhood Cancer Awareness month.
Abby&JessicaOwens.jpg – Canyon High School junior Abby Owens and her mother, Jessica, continue to smile through Abby’s cancer journey.