Sartell Students Helping Young Boy’s Cancer Fight
SARTELL -- Almost everyone knows someone who's been affected by cancer at some point, and students in the Sartell-St. Stephen School District are doing their part to help a young boy through his fight.
Ariel Bender, a Technology Education teacher in the district, has a two-year-old son battling kidney cancer.
Ivan Bender was born with a rare condition called Posterior Urethral Valves, which caused his kidneys and bladder to back up and not work properly. He was in surgery quickly after he was born to try and correct the issue.
Ivan is now fighting stage three cancer, and that's where the Sartell student body has stepped in to help him and his family. Ryan Hauge, Sartell's Activities Director says the idea came from one that sees a lot of national attention thanks to college basketball.
"Sabres vs Cancer kinda comes out of the Coaches versus Cancer model. And if you pay attention to college basketball in the coming weeks you'll see some of those coaches wearing sneakers on the sidelines, raising money for the American Cancer Society."
Hauge says the students don't have a set goal but will be pouring a lot of effort into making sure they raise as much as they can. He adds that it's a great teaching moment for his student-athletes, showing them there's more than just the game.
"It's a cool deal because it lets your student-athletes realize what we're doing is way bigger than the game, and that the game represents the community, and we can do some things for a lot bigger causes through it."
Ariel Bender says her family has been left speechless from the support they've received from the community, friends, and family.
"It's really kind of humbling, the amount of support we've received from friends and family... we just don't really know what to say."
To help raise money for the cause, Sartell's students will sell special "Sabres vs Cancer" shirts for $10 and tributes -- to someone you know that's fought cancer -- that will be hung in the high school for a dollar.
The biggest fundraising effort next week will be during the boy's basketball game on the 18th, and the girls' basketball game on the 19th. During those games, a two-day silent auction will take place, and Hauge says they hope Ivan feels well enough to make an appearance.
A go-fund me has been set up to help the family with medical costs, at the time of this writing, it was at nearly $10,000 of their $15,000 goal.