Olathe East Goes Gold

Olathe East Honors Students Impacted By Pediatric Cancer


Basima Khan, Managing Editor

Towards the end of August, three Olathe East students, Karinne Howell, Chloe Reynolds, and Megan O’Neil, were approached by the Team-Up foundation to fulfill a significant responsibility: raising awareness about pediatric cancer. The Team-Up foundation was established by Tatum Trysla, a student at Blue Valley North. Trysla sought to educate students about childhood cancer and give back to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital where her younger brother underwent treatment for cancer. Since its creation, Trysla has attempted to spread pediatric cancer awareness throughout several school districts. This year, Olathe East High School became the first of the Olathe high schools to bring the cause of pediatric cancer to the forefront.

Karinne Howell, one of the three Olathe East juniors approached by the Team-Up foundation, described the reaction to the important responsibility.

“We were super excited because we wanted to spread pediatric cancer awareness throughout our school… especially because we have multiple kids fighting cancer in our school right now [and] we think we’d be able to bring more attention to it and get people aware of what people [with cancer] go through,” Howell said.

Howell, Reynolds, and O’Neil quickly set to work. They intended to fundraise for St. Jude Children’s Hospital and organize a Gold-Out event on September 17. The three juniors contacted Athletic Director and Assistant Principal Dr. Kaleb Stoppel, who advised them to draw up a professional proposal and email it to Principal Kerry Lane. Principal Lane then invited Howell, Reynolds, and O’Neil to a faculty meeting where the students explained the purpose of the Gold-Out event to Olathe East staff. In addition, Howell, Reynolds, and O’Neil reached out to Olathe East’s soccer team coach, Terry Hair, in order to receive permission for conducting the Gold-Out event at the soccer game on September 17. The three also met with Hawk Nation who agreed to create posters raising awareness about pediatric cancer.

Following the footsteps of the Team-Up foundation, Howell, Reynolds, and O’Neil decided to tie yellow ribbons around the trees surrounding Olathe East. 

Megan O’Neil, an Olathe East junior, explained the purpose of the yellow ribbons.

“I was super onboard with [the yellow ribbons] because I knew it was really gonna spark curiosity because when you see something that’s out of the ordinary… that’s gonna raise questions so it’s super important that we told teachers why they were there so that they could answer people’s questions… We also had a powerpoint slide ready in the commons and we spent a couple hours hanging up posters around the school,” O’Neil said.

Beginning on the Wednesday prior to the soccer game, the three students sold gold-out t-shirts, which were donated by sponsors, in the commons. On September 17, many Olathe East students wore gold-out t-shirts to the soccer game to shower support for students with pediatric cancer. During the soccer game, Howell, Reynolds, and O’Neil sold gold-out items, such as gold pom-poms, gold stickers, gold beads, and yellow rubber bracelets. Parents of Olathe East students made donations to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and purchased raffle tickets. During the second half of the soccer game, the winner of the raffle was announced. All proceeds generated throughout the Gold-Out event were donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Howell, Reynolds, and O’Neil look forward to expanding awareness and support for pediatric cancer and finding other students passionate towards this significant cause next year at Olathe East.

“Next year, we hope to continue it. We’ll be seniors next year so… we need to work on trying to find some people to take over once we’re gone… Next year we’re hoping for [the Gold-Out event] to be a bigger deal and for us to get a football game and then also a soccer game and have the band more involved and just come up with a lot of ways for everybody to be able to get involved with it,” O’Neil said.