Caps for the Cure to Raise Funds for Childhood Cancer Research

MADISON – Caps for the Cure began three years ago as the brainchild of a little girl with what then seemed like an unattainable goal – to raise $10,000 for childhood cancer research.
In 2006, Sun Prairie's Kristina Schultz, an American Family (then UW) Children's Hospital patient who suffered from acute lymphoblastic leukemia, inspired that school district's first Caps for the Cure endeavor. Kristina's school raised $1,000 on her behalf by allowing students who donated a dollar to wear caps to school, and the idea got Kristina thinking.
The Schultz family: Lori, Hanna and Daryl
The Schultz family: Lori, Hanna and Daryl
"She said if one school can raise $1,000, why not get more schools involved?" said Lori Schultz, who was at American Family Children's Hospital Wednesday with husband Daryl and daughter Hanna to kick off this year's Caps for the Cure fundraising drive. "That's how it really started."
Even the most optimistic of Kristina's supporters, including her parents, thought her goal of $10,000 too ambitious. But Kristina wrote letters to the student councils in Sun Prairie, and one school's efforts inspired similar drives by neighboring schools.
Sun Prairie's businesses got involved as well. The local Sentry put out donation jars at their registers, and other businesses had their own caps-permissible work days, as well as jeans days and fundraising cookouts. Kristina's idea was already expanding when American Family Children's Hospital got involved.
American Family Children's Hospital employees donning caps
From the Children's Hospital: Kylee Carolfi Malik, Tom Young and Jeff Poltawsky
"When the hospital said, 'Let's take this and send it out to other school districts in the state,' it was unbelievable," Lori said. "All of a sudden, an idea Kristina had for schools in one town was getting bigger and bigger."
What began in Sun Prairie has now expanded throughout Wisconsin, from Cambria to Winneconne. And the unimaginable $10,000 goal has been quintupled. Caps for the Cure just broached the $50,000 plateau.
Kristina succumbed to leukemia on April 9, 2007 but the program's success befits the memory of the girl who started it all.
"She always wanted to help others. Always," Lori said. "Kristina fought long and hard, and in this way she's still fighting, and we're here to support that fight."
"Research plays a huge role in the battle to cure childhood cancer," said American Family Children's Hospital Vice President Jeff Poltawsky, who himself donned a cap. "Eighty to 90 percent of childhood cancer is now curable, but we still have a long way to go. We're going to find a cure and it's really in large part because of kids like Kristina."
Kristina's father Daryl underscored Kristina's gift for looking to the future by talking about a letter he found a little while after Kristina died. In the letter Kristina, who hoped to one day be a doctor herself, recognized that her battle against leukemia might not end as she and her parents hoped, but she asked those she left behind to continue the search for a cure.
"She alluded to the fact that she didn't think she was going to make it through this," Daryl said. "She wanted us to carry on and have her sister carry on and find a cure for cancer. I would like to see that happen before I'm gone from this world and have it happen right here (at American Family Children's Hospital)."

Date Published: 04/30/2009

News tag(s):  cancerchildren

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