Ashley Baum is on a personal crusade to arm young people with the facts about breast cancer.
As coordinator of the Oct. 4 Breast Cancer Awareness Walk/Run at Stevens Creek Elementary School, Ashley wants to inform as many people as possible about the deadly disease.
"Last year, (Lakeside High School Spanish teacher) Cathy Ferko passed away after a battle with breast cancer," said Ashley, a junior at Lakeside High. "We also had another teacher who was diagnosed with it, but hers is in remission. The Family Career and Community Leaders of America wanted to create awareness among the student body."
As president of the FCCLA, formerly the Future Homemakers of America, Ashley has studied breast cancer extensively, and has talked to experts from St. Joseph and University hospitals in Augusta. She presented a program to health classes at her school last year and participated in an FCCLA event where she gave an illustrated talk, earning her top honors in state and national competitions.
"The statistics are quite alarming," said Ashley, the 17-year-old daughter of Bruce and Christine Baum of Martinez. "It's obviously an issue because these are all members of our community."
Sandi Taylor is the FCCLA advisor at Lakeside High, and has seen the dedication and commitment Ashley has to promoting breast cancer awareness. Her most recent project, the walk/run, has shown that she is a leader.
"She's a real go-getter," Taylor said. "She's self-motivated, and she's very involved in many things. I think she's exceptional."
Ashley Baum is a junior at Lakeside High School and is coordinating a Breast Cancer Awareness run/walk for Oct. 4 at Stevens Creek Elementary School.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The walk/run will be held during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in honor of Ferko, who died Oct. 27. She is survived by her husband, Gary Ferko, and two daughters, Rachel, 14, and Regan, 9.
"I was just flabbergasted when (Ashley) told me what she was doing," said Mr. Ferko, who says his faith has helped him remain strong for his daughters. "It's just unreal. I'm 41 years old and all these years, I had no idea (how many people were affected by breast cancer) until Cathy was diagnosed. What Ashley is doing just thrills me."
All the money from the walk/run will go into what is called the Ferko Fund, said Ashley, who served on Columbia County's Youth Leadership Board last year.
"This fund was set up after Mrs. Ferko's death to collect all the money from different activities in her memory. The money from this fund is then donated to different organizations that do breast cancer research. Our goal is to help find a cure or better treatment options, and hopefully this money will be used to do just that."
More than 50 people already have registered to participate in the walk/run, Ashley said.
Registration fees cost $8. The event will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Stevens Creek Elementary on Evans to Locks Road. To register for the walk/run, contact Ashley at 855-6083.
After Saturday's walk, Ashley will continue to raise awareness about breast cancer. She plans to give illustrated talks to Girl Scouts throughout the CSRA as part of her Gold Award project, the highest recognition a senior Girl Scout can earn. She also intends to gather a group of people to make pillows for cancer patients and deliver them to area hospitals.
"I am very excited about this community event," Ashley said of the walk/run. "I hope that it will be a big success."
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