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“Homecoming is bigger than us:” High schoolers raising money for student fighting cancer

Posted at 4:24 PM, Oct 08, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-08 17:35:59-04

JENISON, Mich. – Homecoming is an exciting time; between making plans, the football game, and finding a date, it brings the community together.

This year, Jenison High School (JHS) students told FOX 17 it is much more.

“I’m just excited because this year homecoming is bigger than us,” said River Gibbs, senior and student council president. “The money that we raise goes to helping kids and young adults who are fighting life-threatening illnesses.”

The student council spearheaded a goal to raise $15,000, all to be donated to Make-A-Wish Michigan. Each class float will be built to feature a local student, and survivor, whose wish has already been granted.

On top of that, JHS hopes to fund a big wish for one of their own, Cameron McKinnon.

“My first wish was to go to New York and see 'Saturday Night Live' and Jimmy Fallon live,” said McKinnon. “My second wish was to try and be an intern, or shadow, for Quentin Tarantino. I’m a big, big film guy.”

Wanting to become a filmmaker and already a talented musician, McKinnon smiled modestly after he listed the instruments he plays. “I can play the saxophone, clarinet, a little bit of the guitar, the piano,” said McKinnon. “I’ve done a little bit of the harmonica.”

Just after Memorial Day, doctors diagnosed McKinnon with osteosarcoma, a cancerous bone tumor. Now he’s playing music as much as he can before surgery on Tuesday, when doctors will place bone from his leg into his arm where the tumor is. It’s a surgery he said he made doctors delay.

“I said, 'No, I’m going to homecoming,’” said McKinnon.

For now, he’s focused on his big weekend ahead.

“I’m going to be all dressed up, going to take some pictures, and go to a nice Italian dinner, then go dance it up at the homecoming dance,” McKinnon said smiling.

And he’s keeping his fingers crossed so he can meet his inspirations.

“If I saw them up close live, and in person, see the filmmaking, see them do all the stuff, it would be like I was a kid again almost, realizing what I’ve always wanted to do,” said McKinnon.

JHS planned several fund-raising events throughout October:

  • Oct. 9: Event at Culver’s in Jenison, 4 p.m. – 9 p.m.; percentage of purchases will be donated to Make-A-Wish Michigan.
  • Oct. 10: Pre-game carnival at Jenison High School field near football stadium, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.