Shorewood — This year, the Shorewood School District is celebrating its 30th year of Olympic-style games and other fundraisers benefiting Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer (the MACC Fund).
The idea of the Shorewood Games was first conceived in 1987 by Shorewood High School students who wanted to honor Gus Rich, a senior who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's T-cell lymphoma two years earlier. The students at the time felt there was a perception in the village that teenagers were troublemakers, as evidenced by a sign outside Sendik's that limited students to two in the store at any given time.
Rich, now healthy, looked on with pride as his son Max, a Shorewood High School senior, recounted the circumstances out of which the Shorewood Games was born.
"Thirty years ago these students were frustrated that their village's view of teenagers was corrupted by stereotypes of behavior," Max Rich said.
The students sought out high school gym teacher Lisa Bromley, who challenged the students to prove the community wrong. They organized an event styled after the Olympics, with students competing in volleyball, basketball, swimming and other activities. The students raised $10,000 that year, and they set a goal to eventually raise a total of $400,000 in the years to come.
"The Shorewood Games and the MACC Fund have always been close to my heart, because I would not be here without them," said Max Rich. "The MACC Fund provided the fundamental research to help Gus, my dad, defeat cancer and live a normal life. I owe everyone who has participated, organized and donated to the Shorewood Games an enormous debt of gratitude for their kindness, their support and the $325,000 and counting they have raised for the MACC Fund over the last 30 years."
Just like the Olympics, the Shorewood Games is held every four years. To reach the Shorewood Games' $400,000 fundraising goal this year, Shorewood students would have to raise $75,000 in the next several months. That would be a record-breaking fundraiser, considering the yearly fundraising record so far is $56,000. Bromley is optimistic the students can pull off the ambitious feat.
"I'm not sure we could pull it off in another community, but Shorewood's got a big heart and great people," she said.
To meet the ambitious $75,000 fundraising goal, the students for the first time ever reached out into the local business community. Ten participating business owners were each challenged to collect $1,000 for the MACC Fund.
All four schools in the district participate in the Shorewood Games. Atwater is planning a Super Bowl event, and Shorewood Intermediate School had a Halloween dance fundraiser. A classroom fundraiser at Lake Bluff raised $2,300, including a $100 donation from a third-grade student named John David. He receives $6 in allowance per week, and $2 of that allowance has to be donated to charity. He saved his allowance for nearly a year to make his donation.
In September, Shorewood families raised $1,000 by "torching" their yards and the yards of their friends. When a 6-foot wooden torch was placed in their yard, that family would have to donate $30 for one night or $50 for two nights.
The "games" portion of the Shorewood Games will be held March 10-24. During that two-week period, students will raise money through a pasta dinner, pancake breakfast, penny wars and the Buzz Cuts for Cancer fundraiser.
In addition to raising funds for the MACC Fund, Bromley said the Shorewood Games has built character in young people over the last 30 years.
"When you can inspire them the value of giving back to the community, that's something they don't learn in a textbook. They have to go out and do it," she said. "There's this unbelievably good feeling that permeates the hallways of the high school for weeks after the games. It's so gratifying when you see it on the kids' faces and how much they learned from the process."
To donate to the Shorewood Games, visit Lisa Bromley's fundraising page at teammaccfund.kintera.org/lisabromley.