The senior class at a New Hampshire high school had two choices — to ride horses at a dude ranch as part of their senior trip, or help their beloved school principal, Courtney Vashaw, fight a rare and aggressive form of cancer.
They chose the latter, giving Vashaw the $8,000 they raised over four years to pay for a class trip to the Rydin’ Hi Ranch in Lake George, New York, WMUR reported.
The decision came not long after learning of Courtney’s possibly terminal diagnosis. Student Leanza Hunt, 17, told the New York Daily News that she and her classmates didn’t even think twice about it.
“The decision was instantaneous. As soon as we found out she had cancer, we decided we wanted to give her our money. It was something we all wanted to do. She’s always taught us to be involved in our community and be compassionate to others. We wanted to help her as much as we could.”
Courtney, a private person who admitted she has a hard time accepting help, was absolutely floored.
Her diagnosis came earlier in the spring. Vashaw, 37, had a tumor removed from under her arm in April, Today added. Two weeks later, she was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of cancer that attacks the soft tissues and is found near the arm, neck, or legs joints, called synovial sarcoma.
A week ago — after exams were finally over — Courtney told her students about her diagnosis since it means she won’t be around as much. Next month, Vashaw is going to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to figure out her treatment plan.
“They have some students in the class who have experienced significant health challenges and they know that can take a huge toll on the family. They decided to give up their senior class trip that they’ve been working toward for four years to put funds toward my fight. Apparently the kids decided they were going to forfeit that,” Courtney, who has a 2-year-old son, said, according to CBS News.
The $8,000, now designated for Vashaw’s medical care, was raised through various fundraisers, dances, and sales, and it was “a lot of work,” Courtney said.
The students were actually getting ready to leave for the trip on Sunday and were meant to spend four days at the dude ranch. Now, they’re planning a local trip instead and more fundraisers to help pay for Courtney’s treatment.
Her students’ selfless decision to help her was simply the end-result of years Vashaw spent teaching them to be generous, kind people. For a teacher like Courtney, that her words were not only heard, but took root in her students was overwhelming.
“Regardless of it being about me, this is such an educator win. You work so hard to make sure that you’re cultivating good people who believe in something bigger than themselves. You’re never really sure if those messages take root, and to see it live right here right now is really touching …They are (a) pretty remarkable, fun, astonishing group of people.”
As Vashaw moves forward to treatment, Courtney said she hopes she doesn’t have to dip into their money. But she intends, someday, to “pay it forward.”
[Photo Courtesy Twitter]