By Alison Banikowski
An Awe-Inspiring Gift: When you’re sitting in a meeting, you don’t quite expect to be called to the front of the room and presented with the most awesome gift. This happened to me, Alison Banikowski, at a meeting of principals in the Olathe Public Schools. Principals, teachers, and other staff had gotten together to create a quilt with t-shirts from my Komen KC Race for the Cure team called Alison’s Allies, along with Komen KC t-shirts, and other inspiring symbols of the fight to end breast cancer.
I was so touched by the positive words shared by Mr. Greg Oborny, the principal of Regency Place Elementary in the Olathe District where I have the honor of serving as the Deputy Superintendent. Greg shared “Dr. B, (as she’s known in the district) represents MANY positive things in our district and has been an inspirational leader. But her fight against cancer proved to be one of her biggest achievements as she continually modeled strength and determination. Being ever so efficient, she would NOT let cancer get in the way of her duties or her mission of educating ALL children in Olathe District Schools. She continues to inspire with her die-hard approach in supporting cancer research and her quest to eliminate cancer. No matter what her role, Deputy Superintendent, educator, cancer survivor…She leads Alison’s Allies with passion and gusto!”
Another long-time supporter of the Komen Race for the Cure is Dr. Melanie DeMoss, another principal in the district. “I have known Alison to be a champion for many years. As Deputy Superintendent in our district, she has championed causes and made a difference for countless lives of students in the Olathe area. Several years ago, Alison became a champion for even a wider audience as she battled breast cancer. Her tireless commitment and dedication to putting an end to this deadly disease is no surprise to those of us who have respected her for her perseverance for many years. The quilt is a symbol of her passion to end breast cancer forever and the support that she feels surrounds her in her passionate cause”.
Jennifer Mullen, a school counselor in the district and a tireless supporter of the Race for the Cure, was instrumental in pulling everyone together to create the memory quilt. Jennifer, who has been touched by breast cancer in her family, says “ For many people who have battled cancer, there is nothing more important post treatment, than getting back to a “normal” life. A life where cancer is moved to the back burner and every effort is made to not think about it. For Dr. B, the most urgent activity post treatment is redirecting her energy from fighting for her life to fighting for others. Instead of putting cancer behind her, she works tirelessly with various organizations to raise thousands of dollars for research and support. She coordinates Alison’s Allies which holds yearly fundraisers and walks in the KC Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, consistently earning the top individual fund raiser spot. Dr. B. proves that surviving cancer is much more than getting through treatments. Surviving cancer is being a part of “one community and one vision, to end breast cancer”.
This was a speechless moment for me! The quilt will be a treasured memento for years to come. The tribute has inspired me to continue fund-raising through the Susan G. Komen Kansas City Race for the Cure. Together we can make a difference and impact not only today, but tomorrow. A world without breast cancer can be a reality!
Do you have a breast cancer story that you would like to share with tens of thousands of breast cancer fighters? Please email Michael A. Levine, Komen Kansas City Communications Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org to be considered for a future blog post on Behind the Ribbon.