Leukemia relapse brings Cazenovia girl support of community, classmates

When Cazenovia High School student Taylor Matt's leukemia returned, scores of community members, parents, and her fellow students felt a call to action to raise money and awareness.

Junior Gabby Jaquith and her mom, Laura, decided to try something new, purchasing hundreds of purple t-shirts with white text reading "Be a Donor" and "Taystrong for Taylor."

Their first order was for 300 shirts, and a second batch of 400 recently came in. As of Saturday April 24, they had raised $1,365.

The Jaquiths are selling the shirts for $10, with all profits going toward Taylor's medical care.

Gabby's friendship with Taylor inspired her to do something to help.

"I've been good friends with her and I've grown up playing lacrosse with her for the last few years," she said.

Gabby is on the girls varsity lacrosse team.

Laura Jaquith said it was important that the shirt be purple, not blue and gold, because she hopes that athletes and students from other schools will also buy the shirts to support the cause and raise awareness. So far, Gabby said, students from CBA, West Genesee, and Henninger have purchased Taystrong T-shirts.

Unfortunately, the color of the shirt has caused some complications; while the initial idea was for student athletes to wear the shirts during warm-up before games, Superintendent Robert Dubik didn't want the athletes wearing non-school colors before the game.

"I have to set parameters," Dubik said. He said the idea wasn't presented to him until after the shirts were already ordered, and that he offered several alternatives, including picking one game and wearing the shirts in honor of Taylor.

Gabby said that one possibility offered was to wear the shirts for a quarter of the warm-ups.

But despite the disagreement about pre-game warm-ups -- "Having the shirts sold and worn is not an issue, it depends on where they're doing it," Dubik said -- everyone involved can agree on one thing: the importance of supporting Taylor.

"We have done a lot for Taylor," Dubik said. "We will continue to do a lot for her and her family."

For Gabby, wearing and selling the shirts is about showing solidarity with Taylor, "because she's not able to be out on the lacrosse field with us to play the game she loves."

Anyone interested in ordering a shirt should e-mail taystrongfortaylor@yahoo.com.

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