Interact Club, Class of 2024 asking community to join “Wolfie’s Pack”
CHELMSFORD, Massachusetts (December 15, 2023) – Earlier this year, Wolfgang “Wolfie” Bak, the 6-year-old son of Cara Bak, a science teacher at Chelmsford High School, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, a rare type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow that affects white blood cells.
“It makes it so his blood cells aren’t doing everything that they need to do,” Ms. Bak explained. “His treatment plan runs on three-week cycles. Each week he receives a chemotherapy infusion into his port, two of the three weeks, he takes a chemo pill daily, the first week he takes steroids, and he gets a lumbar puncture every nine weeks.”
Following numerous hospital visits, blood transfusions, lumbar punctures and even a couple bouts of pancreatitis, Ms. Bak said her son is finally starting to feel and act like himself again, playing with his sister, attending birthday parties and enjoying other fun activities.
However, Wolfie is expected to be in treatment for another year and a half yet, so the Interact Club and Class of 2024 have teamed up to help raise awareness for childhood cancer and to raise funds to help support the Bak family as they navigate this difficult time.
“If anyone in your community is hurting, you have to find a way to help them,” said senior class president Rohan Madhukumar said.
Joe Beauregard of Vertical Raise, an online donation platform, is not only working with the students on the fundraiser, but is also waiving the fees. That means 97% (3% is a mandatory credit card fee) of all donations will go directly to the family to help with treatment costs.
So far, just over $13,000 has been raised. It’s an amount, and a generous gesture, Ms. Bak said she was not expecting.
“It’s very sweet,” she said of “my kids,” as she calls them, raising money for her family. “We don’t like to ask for things. … We appreciate it, but it’s all a lot in every sort of way.”
The overall goal is to raise at least $20,000 for the Bak family.
“She’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and she’ll always give to other people,” said senior Sara DeHaan, an Interact Club member. “I’m really glad we’re able to give back to her in this instance.”
Raising awareness for childhood cancer is a cause that is near and dear to many students at CHS because they just went through the loss of a friend and peer when student-athlete Nik Sperounis, who had been diagnosed with angiosarcoma in 2021, passed away over the summer.
“I feel like our community, in general, has gone through so much in this past year,” said senior Nina Fredericks.
To help publicize their fundraiser, the students turned to CHSTv to assist them with making a video. For many of them, it was their first time meeting Wolfie.
“Sitting there and watching this kid that was so happy, but knowing he was struggling in his own ways was definitely heart-wrenching,” said Nolan Busalacchi, secretary of the senior class. “We also want to thank Ms. Bak for allowing us to do this. It’s really difficult to go on center stage and talk about something that’s deeply personally affecting your child, especially.”
Ultimately, Mr. Busalacchi said the students want to spread the word beyond the walls of the high school and to the broader community.
“So many people are so generous this time of year and so willing to give,” he said. “We really see a vision beyond what we’ve already done.”
In addition to the online fundraiser, the students decided to sell yellow silicone bracelets, featuring the phrase “Wolfie’s Pack,” during lunch periods; they were sold out within a week.
“I barely had time to eat my lunch because kids kept coming up to me and handing me money,” said senior Annika Froude, who was selling bracelets during first lunch on Dec. 8. “Seeing the sheer amount of people who just wanted to give more and more was amazing.”
While not surprised by their determination in coordinating the fundraiser, literacy teacher Marian Smith, who serves as the advisor for Interact Club and Class of 2024, said she is incredibly proud.
“You hear a lot of not-so-great things about teenagers,” she said. “But come work with them, and you see the good.”
The fundraising page for Wolfie and the Bak family will be live until Dec. 26; it can be accessed at https://verticalraise.com/fundraiser/join-wolfies-pack-fundraiser.
About Chelmsford Public Schools
The Chelmsford Public School District provides all students with multiple pathways to optimize their own potential for academic excellence, leadership, and social and emotional wellness. The mission of the Chelmsford Public Schools is to educate, engage, prepare, and empower well-rounded and knowledgeable learners to PERSEVERE through challenges, demonstrate RESPECT and INTEGRITY in their words and actions, are DEDICATED to their community, and display EMPATHY as global citizens while discovering and pursuing their full potential. This PRIDE-driven culture enables all members of the school community to support the growth and development of students. For more information, please visit www.chelmsfordschools.org.