Teacher’s passion: Lifting awareness among families battling cancer in kids

Fifth-grader Alexia LeSueur and her mom were some of the first ones to sign up for the Arredondo race team. – Photo courtesy Tempe Elementary School District

By Robyn Martinez

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Each year, approximately 175,000 children ages 14 and under worldwide are diagnosed with cancer.

In an effort to bring awareness to the realities of childhood cancer, September is internationally recognized as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and one Tempe Elementary teacher is doing everything she can to raise awareness and support for children and families battling the disease.

For the last two years, Nicole Roberts, first-grade teacher at Arredondo Elementary, has worked with her Arredondo community to raise over $4,000 to support the mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Roberts’ sister-in-law was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 16, and her entire junior year of high school was spent in the hospital. Roberts’ family credits St. Jude for saving her life, and she has been dedicated to their mission ever since.

St. Jude is dedicated to eradicating cancer from children, and their mission is that no child be denied treatment based on race, religion, or a family’s ability to pay.

“The fact that no one sees a bill when they get to St. Jude is amazing. Parents and family can just focus on being there to help their child recover, which is what my family experienced,” Roberts said.

In September, St. Jude’s Walk/ Run to End Childhood Cancer takes place across the country. For the last two years, Roberts has taken the cause to her Arredondo Elementary family, and together they have formed a team and are raising money together. This year’s race is Saturday, September 29 in Phoenix.

In addition to the race, Arredondo Elementary has made St. Jude’s mission their service learning project for the year. One fundraiser they are planning to host is an art walk later this year. Parents will have the opportunity to purchase art created by the students, and proceeds will go to St. Jude.

One unique thing that Roberts’ class has done in the past to support St. Jude was create story books that parents were able to purchase, and one copy of the story was donated to St. Jude. Not only is it a good learning project for the students, but it helps support children battling cancer.

“I think more schools should consider supporting this cause because it’s an amazing community builder! Parents, students, teachers, and staff can all get behind this mission. It’s especially something that clicks with the kids, because they know how awful being sick is,” Roberts said, and added, ”Ultimately, this is showing our kids to give back to other kids.”



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