OC students raise awareness, funds

Oklahoma Christian University is well known for the willingness of students and faculty to jump in headfirst for the sake of a good cause.

30 Day 30K is an initiative that  was started on Oklahoma Christian’s campus to support a little girl named Gabbi Cook.

A benefit concert to raise money for Gabbi was held on Monday at 7 p.m. in the forum. The concert featured sophomore Sandra Peck, alumnus Brett Vanderzee and Resident Director Laura Vanderzee as the performing artists.

In addition to the concert, refreshments and baked goods were sold to raise funds. A table was also set up for attendees to write encouraging cards to Gabbi and her family.

Zekariah McNeal, a junior, came out to support the event.

“I think it’s a really cool event and these fundraisers attract lots of people,” McNeal said. “It definitely puts the ‘fun’ back in ‘fundraiser.’”

Gabbi’s parents were missionaries in Peru when they found out they were expecting their second child. When they returned to the United States for a temporary visit to welcome the new baby and do routine check-ups, they found out that Gabbi had a rare form of liver cancer.

“The connection with Gabbi and her family comes through Josh Watson, a professor here at OC,” senior Kalee Floyd said.

Josh Watson went to college with the Cook family and heard about Gabbi’s situation through her dad.

According to Watson, the idea to support the family with a fundraiser came while thinking about one of the classes he teaches.

“I was just thinking that we’re working in an advertising principles class where, more and more, what you’re trying to do is just create attention and movements online,” Watson said. “We came up with the idea to do a benefit concert, and Kalee Floyd really took charge of the whole project.”

Watson mentioned the idea to his class and let them brainstorm potential ways of raising awareness.

“We were trying to think of something catchy that people would grab onto, so we thought of 30 Day 30K,” Floyd said. “Our main goal is to just encourage people to do something good for someone else.”

Kid President, a YouTube sensation who encourages all people to live life in a positive light, mentioned Gabbi in a video.

“In one of his videos, Kid President was talking about being a good person and trying to change the world, and at the end he gave a shout out to Gabbi who’s ‘fighting cancer like a boss,’” Floyd said.

According to both Floyd and Watson, the original goal is to raise $30,000 in 30 days and so far they have raised approximately $600.

“Obviously that is a really high goal and we don’t know if that is really possible,” Floyd said. “Even if we don’t reach $30,000, we can still say that people came to the event thinking of Gabbi and other kids who are battling cancer.”

Junior Ramiro Zamora heard about the benefit concert from a suitemate and was excited about supporting a good cause.

“One thing for sure is that I will keep the family in my prayers, but I also feel really good that we’re investing in helping this family,” Zamora said.

Another student decided to attend the event when she saw that Brett Vanderzee would be performing.

“I have some Brett Vanderzee songs on my iPod, and I really like listening to him sing, so I thought I would come out,” junior Emily Parrott said.

Watson mentions that immediate costs for chemo and hospital visits are not the only financial burden that the Cook family is facing.

“We wanted to do a concert, but we wanted to do more than that,” Watson said. “It’s something like half a million dollars for a liver transplant and 20 to 40 grand a year for medication after that for every year of her life.”

To donate to Gabbi and her family, go to http://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/rj42/30day30k. The website will be active until the thirty days expire on April 25, 2012.

“Money, at the end of the day, is not the biggest thing,” Watson said. “It’s mostly doing good things inspired by Kid President that would be of benefit to Gabbi.”

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