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May 17, 2022

RCDS Student Spearheads Colorful Initiative to Benefit Cancer Families

From left: RCDS Service Learning Coordinator Amy Clark, Section Chief, Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Dr. Jessica Scerbo, Marianne Semenuk (APN), RCDS student Chloe Melconian, Lacey Richard (APN) and Dr. Andrew Silverman

RCDS seventh grader Chloe Melconian doesn’t associate gold with just jewelry or glitter. She connects the color to a much deeper meaning. Gold, the international color for childhood cancer, is the color Melconian donned on RCDS’s Cancer Awareness Dress Down Day to support a cause that, unfortunately, hits close to home for her and her family. 

In 2020, Melconian’s cousin Haig, ’20, a beloved member of the RCDS community, lost his brave battle with cancer. Haig’s impact on the community and her family’s experience inspired Chloe to help other families with a loved one undergoing treatment. She spearheaded the Cancer Awareness Dress Down Day to encourage students to donate $2 in order to wear a color that represents a cancer they felt passionate about supporting.

“When my cousin was in the hospital, I saw the love and help that other people gave to my family,” she said. “Sometimes neighbors would drop off meals to my aunt and uncle to show they cared. I know they really appreciated that.” 

The initiative raised more than $1,500 and provided enough gift bags to be donated to 17 families at K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital, whose mission is to not only provide the highest standard of healthcare, but to advocate for the needs of both their patients and their families. Each gift bag contained a $100 gift card for UBER, Door Dash or Grub Hub, a gator lip balm, and an encouragement note written by an RCDS student.

“I think the gift bags made them happy to know that someone is there for them during a tough time,” Melconian said. “I can kind of relate to a similar time, so in a way it’s like we did something for my family too. It’s also about informing more people about cancer.”

By dressing in the particular colors at school, Melconian hoped to increase awareness among her classmates and the rest of the RCDS community about the significance of the colors. 

Melconian credits the culture of RCDS with the success of the fundraiser. “We’ve been talking about the school’s four pillars – kind, honest, responsible, respectful – since I was a Beginner (Kindergartner),” she explained. “The pillars are everywhere in the school as a reminder. My parents even have them posted on a bulletin board at home. Everyone at school was so nice and supportive. And Mrs. [RCDS Service Learning Coordinator Amy] Clark is the best! She helped me connect with the student council who pitched in. She made meetings with the hospital. Without everyone’s help, it wouldn’t have been so successful.” 

Melconian hopes to make more connections with the families impacted by pediatric cancers and to recruit others to join her cause. Meanwhile, The RCDS Service Learning Program and the Parent Council’s Kindness Committee will continue to create opportunities for everyone in the School community to engage in service initiatives.