“It. Was. Amazing,” said Sizer School Senior Emma McEvoy. “I had so much help from so many people. And it was a learning experience, not just for me but for everyone involved – from people who didn’t know how to do [an event] like this to those who didn’t know what Transverse Myelitis was. Thank you, to everyone who came out to support the event.”
On Monday evening, the Sizer Senior and Hubbardston native hosted Hoops for Hope at Sizer School, located at 500 Rindge Rd. in Fitchburg. Emma was joined at the basketball charity event by over 50 peer volunteers and attendees who came together to help Emma spread awareness and raise money for her cause.
Little more than 10 years ago, Emma’s mother Tammy McEvoy was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis.Transverse Myelitis is caused by inflammation of the spinal cord, which causes neurological dysfunction. It can result in paralysis or weakness in the arms and legs, sensory symptoms such as numbness/tingling, pain and discomfort, as well as bowel and bladder dysfunction.
“When I first decided to do my senior project on Transverse Myelitis, my mom was my inspiration for my topic,” said Emma. “My mom was diagnosed with TM in 2006 and was paralyzed from the T6 [vertebrate] down. She has been fighting her way back ever since.”
The players, many of which were members of Sizer School’s girls and boys basketball teams as well as parents and faculty, played two 20-minute halves while Emma and company shared information and sold collectable rubber duckies and SRNA (Siegel Rare Neuroimmune Association) t-shirts with the Hoops for Hope logo, sponsored by RADCO. And $500 was raised.
The SRNA is a not-for-profit international organization that advocates for, supports and educates individuals and their family’s diagnosed with TM. The SRNA invests in scientific research, therapy development and training of clinician-scientists.
"Seniors this year have really committed themselves to designing Senior Projects that reflect our mission to Think, Care and Act,” said Peter Nelson, 12th grade English & Literacy Specialist and Senior Advisor. “Many of their topics and products are service-oriented. Seniors are raising awareness and funds for medical research, addressing mental health challenges through the arts and trauma sensitive practices, directing resources to those who are homeless and food insecure, telling their own stories of hardship and perseverance ...the list goes on and on. I am inspired by their compassion and action."
Senior Project is a graduation requirement of Sizer School. It is an opportunity for a student to independently explore a topic of their choosing. Senior Projects demonstrate a personalized learning experience and are designed as a “spring board” into life beyond Sizer, allowing students to move beyond the limiting, often stifling world of high school.
About putting on a fundraising event like this, Emma said, “It was challenging, definitely, but with the right supports you realize you can do anything. Everyone at Sizer was so ready to help, it was awesome.”
To any student who wants to make a difference in their community, no matter what age, Emma says: “If you have something you are really interested in, just go for it. Even if it’s out of your comfort zone. Ask friends and teachers for support, they’re going to be happy to guide you through everything. In the end, it’s all going to be worth it.”