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Think pink! St. Paul seniors organize concert to help others

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 28, 2015 at 3:53 PM

When St. Paul seniors Meredith Hackathorn and Caitlin Cox were given the challenge of completing a senior project for graduation, they decided to go for the pink a benefit for breast cancer research that could raise thousands of dollars.

These enterprising young ladies are so dedicated to Think Pink the benefit concert they've planned for Sunday that they've decided to forego the glitter and glamour of prom to handle last-minute details for their benefit, which falls the day after prom. So instead of celebrating their senior status with their friends at the prom, Hackathorn and Cox will be making final arrangements for 13 bands to perform to, hopefully, hundreds of teenagers at Kalahari's Nia Convention Center from noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets for the event are $20 and will be available at the door. The bands range from "high school bands to college-age and professional bands with record labels," Cox said. Hackathorn added that most of the bands play rock music and some play experimental music. Samples of the bands' music and additional information on the concert can be heard atwww.myspace.com/mncseniorproject....

The senior project requirement was added at St. Paul because graduation had to be moved up a week so St. Paul alumnus Eric Schild could hold his ordination Mass in the church on the planned graduation date. The school will hold graduation a week earlier, and it added the requirement of at least 20 hours on a community service project to make up for the lost class time.

Hackathorn and Cox, best friends who both plan to attend The Ohio State University next year to pursue careers in the medical field, decided to tackle a project that was close to their hearts. "We came up with raising money for breast cancer because we've known a whole lot of people who have been affected by that in the past few years," said Cox, 18, the daughter of Terry and Mary Ann Cox.

"We both like music and we thought it'd be a fun thing to do," added Hackathorn, 18, the daughter of Mike and Paula Hackathorn.

St. Paul Principal Jim Tokarsky said the girls' project more than fulfills the requirements for their senior project.

"I think they are embracing the spirit of the project," he said. "It's a culmination of what they've learned here at St. Paul and they're doing something for the greater community. When I first read their proposal, I had no idea it would end up being something of this magnitude."

Neither did the teenagers. "We wanted to do something with breast cancer," Cox said.

"We decided we should do something that would get the teen community involved."

"We never thought it would be this big," Hackathorn said.

"In the first place we thought it would just be a small concert, maybe in our gathering space at school," Cox added. "We found some really cool bands and it made us realize this is serious. From there, our whole idea changed and we realized we needed a bigger place to do this and we could do something great."

But something great meant great attention to detail. Fundraising, legal agreements, contracts, site locations and security the teenagers discovered the many factors involved in setting up a big event. They also learned the importance of community support.

"We've gotten a lot of unexpected support from the community," Cox said. "It makes you feel really good when people hear what you're doing and they call your house and offer to help." She said one breast cancer survivor heard about their project and has helped advertise the event in the area.

Laser Images printed the tickets at no charge, Hoffman Screen Printing donated T-shirts to sell at the event, Castle Music provided a drum kit for the bands to use and businesses such as Sheri's Coffee House, Stein Family Dentistry and Wal-Mart have donated gift cards that will be put into balloons and raffled off at the concert.

Monroeville High School senior Dan Fester will emcee the concert and the bands are all donating their time and talents for the benefit. Hackathorn and Cox will, however, pay for transportation costs for the bands to attend the concert.

With their meticulous planning and community support, the teenagers already have raised enough money to cover costs for the concert and are now working in the plus column for donations to breast cancer research.

Both girls agree that the project has been a learning experience. "Business skills, how to be more sociable," were two things that Hackathorn said she has gained from the project. But the feeling of doing a good deed is the major benefit, she added. "It's just a good feeling to help others," she said.

"I've had a lot of fun," Cox said, while learning about legal agreements, contracts and publicity. "At first we thought, 'Oh no another project, another stress.'" she said. "Then we found something we wanted to do and it works. It made us realize how important service toward others is and we'll carry that throughout our lives."

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