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Breast Cancer Awareness Month brings out the best in many of our area’s students, who you’ve seen pictured in these pages wearing pink uniforms for a good cause.

Their philanthropic work — at that age, no less — “is quite inspirational to see,” Carle Cancer Institute director Jason Hirschi said. “There are very few things more impactful than the younger generation raising money.”

Those giant cardboard checks presented during all-school assemblies throughout October are not just for show. Hirschi said donations allow the clinic to purchase everything from wigs to mastectomy bras to cancer care kits. Recently, the 45 chairs in the infusion room (above) were outfitted with personal entertainment tablets that allow patients “to watch TV and listen to music and play games,” he said, which offers a pleasant distraction for what can be an eight-hour procedure.

Even better: The kids are reaching out to help, not vice-versa. “All on their own accord,” Hirschi said.

In 2019, third-party fundraisers raised nearly $35,000 for Carle’s Mills Breast Cancer Institute. After a pause in 2020 due to the pandemic, those donors have contributed more than $12,000 for breast cancer patients early on in 2021.

“Whether it’s a dollar or a million, it ends up benefitting a patient,” Hirschi said.

If interested in joining the cause, contact the Carle Center for Philanthropy at 217-383-3021 or via email at

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