First, in 2015, the celebration was a chance to encourage Pa’Sha Williams in her struggle against cancer.
The Kilgore Middle Schooler’s family, friends, classmates and teachers mourned her death a year later, in April 2016, but their celebration of her life and legacy continued: they’ll “Fight Like a Girl” and remember her again this month with Pa’Sha Day 2018.
According to sixth grade science teacher Tracy Drury, it was Pa’Sha’s teacher, Bylinda Rieves, who first came up with the idea in 2015, championing the student and her cancer battle.
“As soon as Bylinda shared her idea, the KMS faculty and staff jumped at the chance to be a part of Pa’Sha Day,” Drury noted, describing it as a beautiful example of the campus’ FISH philosophy and its four essential goals: Choose Your Attitude, Be There, Make Someone’s Day and Play.
The first Pa’Sha Day raised about $10,000 in 2015 and the second event, last May, raised another $7,000: funds benefit cancer research through Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society, Drury added, with additional monies set aside for Kilgore ISD students diagnosed with cancer and for scholarships in honor of Pa’Sha and two other KISD cancer victims, Shaquille Ross and Lynzee Ford.
“These other two students were an integral part of our campus us well, so this is a great opportunity to remember them as well,” KMS Principal April Cox said. “We feel like if we can continue to put resources into research, into areas that can continue seeking a cure, then that is something.”
This year’s event is set for 1:30 p.m. Friday, May 18.
“We are very happy to say this year we do not have any students within our district who have a diagnosis of cancer,” Cox said, also happy to report five current seniors will be receiving scholarships from the Pa’Sha Day fund this year. “We’ve been able to raise that from three scholarships in the past.
“That will help keep her legacy alive and her name alive as we move into that time they can go off and do some great things and, hopefully, always remember her legacy that helped provide some books or something else on their college journey.”
Pa’Sha’s mother, Squelia, is now a KISD employee on-campus at the middle school.
“Now she’s an integral part of the planning of it as she’s here with us,” Cox said.
Open to Kilgore Middle Schoolers, staffers and special guests, Pa’Sha Day’s “Fight Like a Girl” carnival includes $1-per-game activities and $10 wristbands for unlimited play. Food, drinks, gift card drawings, song requests and temporary tattoos carry an additional charge as the event fundraisers for the scholarships and cancer research.
“We assist with other things,” Cox noted, “such as Children’s Hospital in Dallas that has a closet of items that kids can go to, comfort items.
Among other volunteers, the National Honor Society at Kilgore High School will assist with games May 18 as KMS students rotate through the carnival challenges in the afternoon or walk the track.
“I think the fun part is just getting out of class, getting that free time,” Cox said. “We’ve been very fortunate that in the past almost all of our kiddos have been able to be a part of getting snacks, playing games because of our community partners.”
Orgill donates water for the event, she noted, and numerous other supporters help fund wristbands for the KMS students.
“Our need is sponsoring kiddos to be able to enjoy this fun day,” Cox said, “and, of course, it’s a win-win because all of this money goes to a great cause.
“If there are any of those organizations that would like to be a part of this event, they can contact Kilgore Middle School and we’ll put them to great use.”
For more information or to support the event, call 903-988-3902.