Lake Zurich students wanted to raise $1,000 for a boy with cancer. They raised $10,000 for research.

  • Theo Brink, 6, who had cancer and attends Isaac Fox Elementary School in Lake Zurich, gets hugs from his kindergarten classmates. Theo inspired his classmates and the community to raise more than $10,000 for cancer research.

      Theo Brink, 6, who had cancer and attends Isaac Fox Elementary School in Lake Zurich, gets hugs from his kindergarten classmates. Theo inspired his classmates and the community to raise more than $10,000 for cancer research. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Theo Brink, 6, a kindergartner at Isaac Fox Elementary School in Lake Zurich, has been given a clean bill of health after cancer treatment.

      Theo Brink, 6, a kindergartner at Isaac Fox Elementary School in Lake Zurich, has been given a clean bill of health after cancer treatment. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Theo Brink, 6, who attends Isaac Fox Elementary School in Lake Zurich, inspired his classmates and community to raise more than $10,000 for cancer research.

      Theo Brink, 6, who attends Isaac Fox Elementary School in Lake Zurich, inspired his classmates and community to raise more than $10,000 for cancer research. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Theo Brink, 6, a kindergartner at Isaac Fox Elementary School in Lake Zurich, stands with his classmates in the library. Theo's teacher Jen Lyons, in back left, and Anne Kuehl, library media specialist in back right, helped the kids raise funds for cancer research in Theo's name.

      Theo Brink, 6, a kindergartner at Isaac Fox Elementary School in Lake Zurich, stands with his classmates in the library. Theo's teacher Jen Lyons, in back left, and Anne Kuehl, library media specialist in back right, helped the kids raise funds for cancer research in Theo's name. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Theo Brink, 6, a kindergartner at Isaac Fox Elementary School in Lake Zurich, stands with his classmates in the library. Theo's teacher Jen Lyons, in back left, and Anne Kuehl, library media specialist in back right, helped the kids raise funds for cancer research in Theo's name.

      Theo Brink, 6, a kindergartner at Isaac Fox Elementary School in Lake Zurich, stands with his classmates in the library. Theo's teacher Jen Lyons, in back left, and Anne Kuehl, library media specialist in back right, helped the kids raise funds for cancer research in Theo's name. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Theo Brink, 6, who attends Isaac Fox Elementary School in Lake Zurich, was the inspiration for a $1,000 fundraiser by his classmates. They wound up raising more than $10,000 for cancer research.

      Theo Brink, 6, who attends Isaac Fox Elementary School in Lake Zurich, was the inspiration for a $1,000 fundraiser by his classmates. They wound up raising more than $10,000 for cancer research. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 5/4/2022 8:21 PM

After learning that an Isaac Fox Elementary School kindergartner had cancer, students at the Lake Zurich school raised nearly $10,000 for childhood cancer research.

Their initial goal was $1,000.

 

"It was super overwhelming to think what this one little school in Lake Zurich could do," said Megan Brink, whose 6-year-old son Theo was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma in July 2020.

Theo endured 12 rounds of radiation therapy, 10 rounds of chemotherapy, two stem cell transplants and immunotherapy before his doctors at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago gave him a clean diagnosis this spring, Brink said.

In March, Isaac Fox students began raising money through a read-a-thon. They would commit to reading a certain number of pages or books in a month and ask family members and friends to donate if they made their goal.

Local businesses got in on the fundraising. Sodexo, the company that runs the school's cafeteria, donated 400 lemon sorbets for students to sell. And Culver's in Lake Zurich donated a portion of sales from students and their families during the drive.

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Anne Kuehl, a library media specialist at the school, said the Sodexo and Culver's promotions raised a little more than $1,000 and the pledges collected by students accounted for the rest of the $9,655.

Kuehl, who primarily led the fundraising along with Theo's teacher Jen Lyons, said everyone was stunned by the result.

"We're just in awe of how a group of kids (was) able to rally their community," Kuehl said, briefly getting choked up. "The kids were asking about him and caring about Theo and helped make a difference."

After being told the children wanted to raise money for Theo, Megan and Michael Brink told Kuehl and Lyons they would rather the money went to children with cancer still undergoing treatment and suggested several organizations.

Megan Brink said they were happy when the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation was picked. The foundation, started by a mother whose daughter Alexandra "Alex" Scott had the same diagnosis as Theo, has raised more than $250 million toward children's cancer research, including the development of better treatments.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Like so many other children with cancer, Alex died, Megan Brink said.

And though Theo has been given a clean bill of health, the cancer and subsequent treatments damaged his vision and hearing. He will be tested frequently to make sure the cancer has not returned.

When asked what Theo thinks about the endeavor, Megan Brink said she's not sure he fully understands how great of an accomplishment it was. She said they have told him the money is going to help other kids like the ones he met on the 17th floor of Lurie's hospital who still are undergoing treatment.

"He's very quiet and doesn't say much," Megan Brink said with a laugh. "When they gave him the big check to hold, he just smiled."

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