Like many at Lakeside High School, sophomore Grace Bellmer wanted to be proactive after learning her beloved English teacher, Karen Chase, had breast cancer.
When a classmate suggested a concert fundraiser, Grace was on it. BAND Together: BANISH Breast Cancer will be at 6 p.m. Saturday at Wesley United Methodist Church.
"I loved the idea," said Grace. "I'm very excited to be a part of it."
The event will feature a variety of bands, soloists and inspirational speakers.
Ship of Fools, Patrick Reagan and No Star are among the performers for the benefit, which will raise funds in honor of Chase for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. Several Lakeside High students have put together a band for the event as well.
"Grace is very connected with the arts world. She jumped on the idea. She's so organized and committed," said Chase, 45.
Grace has performed in many Augusta Players productions and drew on people she knew there to help.
While Grace is heading the fundraiser, she said she's not alone in the planning. Many other students have followed her lead to get the event off the ground. One student developed the logo and posters; others will provide technical support on the day of the event.
Chase said the concert is just one of the many ways her students and the faculty and staff at Lakeside have reached out to her during her illness.
In October, which is breast cancer awareness month, Chase found a lump during a routine self-examination. She went in for a mammogram, and doctors immediately wanted to do a biopsy. She had a lumpectomy and underwent four months of chemotherapy. She started radiation treatments this month.
She chronicled her fight in a blog called The Tata Tales, at thetatatales.blogspot.com, and she let her students know what was going on as well.
"I felt bad when I found out she had cancer," said Grace. "She's a good person all around. It was a shock to all of us. She was very open with us. She didn't hide anything."
Chase said students also helped raise money for a wig for her to wear during her chemotherapy. The students called it her "fun wig."
"It's funky. It has streaks in it. It's cute, and it fits me," she said.
Chase said the experience also has been a way for her to teach her students the importance of cancer prevention and early detection.
"They were squeamish to talk about it at first," she said.
Admission for BAND Together: BANISH Breast Cancer is $5, and tickets are available at the door.
For information, e-mail BANDtogether5@aol.com.
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