West Milwaukee Intermediate School (WMIS) demonstrates compassion, community and character in many ways every day. This year, the school community has risen to embrace and support a seventh grade student who is facing life head on. On July 23, 2016, Austyn was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma cancer. He has had several surgeries and is undergoing extensive chemotherapy and radiation. Austyn is facing a long, tough road ahead.
The WMIS community has been working to support Austyn and his family. Students and staff have worked to raise funds to help with the medical care and special supplies Austyn needs during his fight. They held a car wash, a student vs. teacher soccer game fundraiser, a Halloween Costume fundraiser, donated some of this year’s Haunted Hallway/Dance proceeds, a school supply drive to gather the special food, health care supplies and other items that will be needed, and worked with a foundation to bring further financial support for Austyn.
Deme Begos, a social studies teacher at WMIS contacted the This Time Tomorrow Foundation. The foundation’s primary focus is to support families of children that are fighting cancer. With the assistance from Laure Derpinghaus, Marketing Manager at Generac Industries, the foundation was able to provide Austyn’s family with a check for $3,000.
Austyn being a true WMIS panther, has tried to attend school as often as possible and has showed tremendous courage, with the support of his fellow classmates. Austyn has not lost his zest for knowledge. Learning options utilizing technology have been set up for the days that he cannot attend school. Sherilynn Chan, a Pediatric Oncologist from the Medical College of Wisconsin is working closely with WMIS to provide information to Austyn’s teachers and classmates about his condition. She will give a presentation to the staff on how to support Austyn while he is in school later this month.
While Austyn’s situation is certainly unusual, the response and character of WMIS is not. WMIS is a school of character focused on supporting every child and family, on the journey of life.