OWATONNA — St. Mary’s School is rallying to help one of its own.
The school is utilizing numerous fundraising efforts to support teacher Terri Grose, who is out of school this year as she battles ovarian cancer.
Grose, St. Mary’s physical education teacher and athletic director, was diagnosed Aug. 19, had surgery a week after, and then began chemotherapy three weeks later, she said. Fortunately, her latest blood tests “look really good,” she said.
“And I’m feeling a lot better, [although] every day is a struggle,” she added.
The catalysts for the fundraising effort are eighth graders Jonny Wall, Jacob Meiners and Brayden Truelson.
Grose has “done so much for the school and for us personally,” Wall said. “It’s the least we can do.”
“Without all the prayers from students, staff and parents, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Grose said. “They are a fantastic group of people.”
Meiners said the project began to take shape the second week of this school year. The school hopes to raise at least $3,000.
“It started with students from the get-go,” said Chris Smith, a seventh and eighth grade teacher at St. Mary’s. “There was no poking or prodding needed.”
Meiners, Wall and Truelson began selling teal bracelets — the color for ovarian cancer — on Dec. 14, and there will be a free throw-a-thon before school Jan. 10 and Jan. 11. All sixth, seventh and eighth grade students will shoot 100 free throws on one of those mornings at 7:15 a.m., soliciting pledges prior to the event.
St. Mary’s basketball games against Bethlehem Academy Jan. 9 will be devoted to Grose. Everyone is encouraged to wear teal. Half of concession sales will go to her, and half-court shots, cookies and split-the-pot drawings will all help grow the fund.
The St. Mary’s girls basketball team will hold a similar night in February, Smith said.
“They’re on the road Jan. 9, but they still wanted to support her,” said Smith.
Grose said the efforts of the St. Mary’s community have been “overwhelming.”
“It’s so moving — I can’t even tell you how moving it’s been,” said Grose, who has been at St. Mary’s for more than 35 years. “I have tears in my eyes almost every day.”
The business and marketing class that Wall, Meiners and Truelson are currently taking “has helped a lot” in planning these events, Meiners said.
“You can tell [Meiners, Wall and Truelson] really care,” said Smith.
Smith says fundraising efforts like this demonstrate the eighth-graders have learned more at St. Mary’s than just reading and writing.
“It’s about how you treat people,” he said.
During her long tenure at St. Mary’s, “I’ve touched a lot of people, and I’ve been touched by them,” Grose said. “The students are so caring and giving, and I get emails every day from teachers saying all the kids are praying for me.”