VUHS raises funds for cancer patient

VERGENNES — The annual Vergennes Union High School senior class fall charity walk-a-thon, which concluded atop Mount Philo on Oct. 9, raised more than $3,000 to help an Athens, Ga., resident with connections to Vermont in her battle with a rare form of bone cancer.

Keri Kinsel, 27, was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma in January, and has undergone treatments since then. Doctors at the nonprofit Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., say that a bone marrow treatment more common in Europe will help prevent the cancer from returning to Kinsel.

Kinsel’s insurance company has declined to pay for the procedure, according to a website founded by Vermont resident Meredith Kinsel-Ziter (the ex-wife of Keri Kinsel’s husband, Carl Kinsel) and to an online article published by the Athens Banner-Herald. The newspaper article said the Moffitt center may comp some of the treatment costs, but the Kinsels are still looking at a bill that could reach $450,000.

Kinsel-Ziter’s website, rally.org/caringforkeri, hopes to raise $325,000 for the couple. So far, not counting the VUHS seniors’ donation, $11,500 has been given through the website.

The choice of this beneficiary for the VUHS seniors’ effort came at the suggestion of two senior class advisers.

On Oct. 9, the class presented a $3,000 check to Kinsel-Ziter — whose two daughters, Keri Kinsel’s stepdaughters, attend Champlain Valley Union High School. More money is still coming in, and the final total will grow.

The 118 seniors walked 17.6 miles in three stages on Oct. 2, 3 and 9 from VUHS to the top of Mount Philo, winding their way through the back roads of Ferrisburgh to get there. Seven seniors ran the full route on the 2nd, and then joined the class for the walk on the second and third days.

This year’s effort brings the total amount raised by the senior walks to more than $20,000 and counting. Previous donations were made to the Child Life Services program at Burlington’s Vermont Children’s Hospital, a division of Fletcher Allen Health Care; the Helen Porter Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center in Middlebury; and two diabetes and breast cancer programs at Porter Hospital.

Each time the class walked considerable distances in three stages during mornings while VUHS juniors took standardized tests. VUHS officials believe a quiet building benefits juniors taking those tests, and that the juniors are essentially, like the walking seniors, performing a community service by sitting down for the tests.

Meanwhile, VUHS sophomores and freshmen have either visited colleges, taken career-path testing or performed community service in the five years the school has taken this approach.

On the mornings of Oct. 2 and 9, VUHS sophomores took career testing, and on Oct. 3 they went through orientation at Castleton State College.

On Oct. 2 and 9, VUHS freshmen visited colleges, and on Oct. 3 they went to the Vergennes Opera House for a writing project related to the school’s effort to establish Performance-Based Graduation Requirements. Organizer Lee Shorey said that session went well.

Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@addisonindependent.com.

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