After a rare diagnosis, a Kent Roosevelt student launched a fundraising campaign

Blake Michel, 7, is battling a rare form of cancer. The Kent community has donated thousands of dollars to support his family. Photo by the Michel family

When 7-year old Blake Michel was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), a rare form of cancer that mainly affects children, people in the Kent community sprung into action to help his family and raise funds for his treatment.

Scottie Spears, a sophomore at Kent Roosevelt High School, has been close with the Michel family for a long time. Jesse Michel, Blake’s uncle and a teacher at Kent Roosevelt, coached Spears on Roosevelt’s baseball team.

Spears is a part of Kent Roosevelt’s Marketing Management program, which provides students with experience and coursework in marketing functions like finance, logistics and promotion. Through the program, students also get to participate in DECA, a marketing student association that provides leadership, teamwork and community service opportunities. 

Spears decided to pursue fundraising for Blake, who attends a Canton elementary school, as one of his Marketing Management projects.

In late January, Kent Roosevelt students held a fundraiser in which they could donate money to pie a teacher in the face. This raised about $1,500 through student and community donations, Spears said. 

There was also a fundraiser at the Kent Roosevelt boy’s basketball game against Tallmadge earlier this month where they sold T-shirts. 

“We sold them for $7 because he’s 7-years-old,” he said. “We got our student section and some parents and people to wear them to the game. We had our [varsity] basketball team warm up in them and our cheerleading team, the entire time, was cheering in them just to show some solidarity for him. The girls [team] did it the week prior.”

They’ve also placed donation jars out at events like school plays. 

“It’s a tough story,” he said. “He’s 7 years old, and he should be doing the normal things that 7-year-old boys do. But their family’s been thrown a curveball and they shouldn’t have to take all of the burden.”

While the fundraising efforts have been Spears’ project and he’s handled most of the logistics and planning, he said he can’t take credit for all the work. From the basketball teams to the coaches and his fellow Kent Roosevelt students, “it’s been a team effort through and through,” he said.

So far with the fundraising efforts Spears has helped organize, he said they’ve brought in about $2,300, all of which is going to Blake’s family.

Spears has been in contact with Blake’s family as he’s been working on the fundraising and said they’ve been extremely thankful. But Spears said he’s not doing this for the thanks or accolades, he’s just happy to be able to help out. 

“They have been very thankful, but it’s been a pleasure to do it,” he said.

As for upcoming events, Spears said there will be a Kent Roosevelt High School baseball preview in March that the team will be dedicating to Blake. 

“I think Kent is unlike any other school district,” he said. “We are a small, tight-knit community and we take care of one another, and this is just another example of that.”

Anyone interested and able to help can donate to this GoFundMe organized by Blake’s aunt, which also provides updates on his treatment journey.

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Maria McGinnis is a contributing writer for The Portager.