Leora Wildi is touched her fellow Prince George Secondary School students are rallying around her in her time of need.
The Grade 12 student needs medication that costs thousands of dollars a month to treat chronic graft versus host disease (CGVHD), which she got after receiving a bone marrow transplant as a result of treatment for leukemia. Wildi's condition causes her joints to tighten and she now uses a wheelchair to get around. The drugs will help loosen those joints and give her greater mobility to perform everyday tasks.
Wildi received the support of an anonymous donor for one month of treatment earlier this year and said the results were positive.
"I know it's working," she said Monday during an interview at PGSS. "I can feel it in my joints and in my bones."
Another supporter has pledged money for a second round of treatment and she's expecting to receive the medication soon. But with the cost of the drugs surpassing $3,000 a month, Wildi and her family are looking for more support to ensure she can receive a full 18 months of care.
"It's very expensive and we as a family cannot afford it," she said.
Her classmates are already stepping up, with the first big fundraiser happening Friday when students will sell homemade samosas to teachers during a professional development day.
Students in the Free the Children club at PGSS will also help set up for the professional development event and will donate their honorarium from the school board to the cause.
"I think it's very generous of them to be donating their time and energy to help me when most of them don't even know me," Wildi said. "I really appreciate it."
Teacher Mike Carson, who supervises the Free the Children club, said students also plan to hold ice cream sales and other fundraisers in the coming weeks to help raise more money for Wildi's medication.
In addition to helping out Wildi, members of the Free the Children club also volunteer locally at the St. Vincent de Paul Society and raise money for a host of international causes related to young people and education.
"When we heard about [Leora's plight], we thought this is exactly what our club is all about," he said.
Over the next few weeks, the club hopes to raise a few thousand dollars to help with another month's worth of treatment. In addition to raising money for the medication, Carson hopes the fundraising campaign will help with moral support for both Leora and her family.
"I think it's really important that the family feels they're not alone," he said.
The school is also encouraging the community at large to get involved by setting up a fund at Integris Credit Union in Wildi's name. Anyone who wants to make a contribution can visit any Integris branch and to donate to the account: In Trust for Leora Wildi, No. 80353615.
"I really need this medication so if people could donate I would really appreciate that," Wildi said.
The top priority for the trust fund is to pay for the medication to treat CGVHD but if there are surplus funds it will go towards other uncovered medication Wildi is taking. Money will also be used to subsidize any transportation costs related to her treatment, help the family maintain their household and possibly even set up a scholarship for Leora and her sister Sarah.
Even with all of the medical challenges she's faced, Wildi has been determined to continue her education and is looking forward to graduating this year.
"It amazes that she can come to school and smile, putting up with what she's enduring," Carson said.
Getting the funding so she can get the medication is key as it will allow her to continue her studies in Prince George rather than having to go to the Lower Mainland for long term treatment.
"It's been a goal of mine, since I got sick to graduate," Wildi said. "I'm pretty excited."