Students band together to raise funds and awareness for CMU student diagnosed with cancer
Central Michigan University students are rallying to show support for Lake Superior State University student Zach Barber, who was diagnosed with stage-three brain cancer over spring break.
Despite his enrollment at another university, CMU students are coming together to create a three-step plan to raise funds and awareness for Barber.
Livonia freshman Joshua Palmer met Barber through various organizations, including the Michigan Association of Student Councils and Honor Societies and College Volunteer Facilitator Corps, where they worked and volunteered together. Palmer heard about the news through a phone call.
“Different members of our organization were going around and calling the rest of us, so we were all aware of what was going on, and we immediately began a plan to fight for him,” Palmer said.
Palmer said with the help of MASC/MAHS and CFC, they came up with a three-part plan to help show support for Barber and give him hope. The first part of the plan was about making people aware of Barber’s story.
“Cancer has touched a lot of people in many different ways,” Palmer said. “So, we just want to get the story out there so people hear about it, get inspired by it.”
Afterward, the group decided they could spread the news quicker through social media and created a Facebook page, “Prayers for Zach Barber and family,” which already has 1,600 likes, and a Twitter campaign.
“We’ve done a big push in social media,” Palmer said. “There’s a specific hashtag set up. It’s #ZBCTown, and that has really gone crazy. We had over 100,000 tweets so far, specifically toward that. What we’re doing is having people put emotional messages or jokes, things that Zach can just scroll down and read and get inspired by, be happy about, make him laugh.”
The final step of the plan revolved around fundraising. The campaign, “Buckets for Barber,” allows students and anyone with spare change to donate to Barber to help his family pay the medical expenses.
“We’ve collected $400, just a small group of us,” Palmer said. “Through Leadership Safari, we’ve got some donations from them (and) the students involved. And, in just our residence hall, Barnes Hall, a lot of people have been donating their spare change. “
The Beta Delta Pledge Class of Beta Theta Pi got involved and chose “Beta for Barber” as their philanthropy event and have been asking other Greek chapters to help by donating any extra change. Palmer said the group is planning to collect all of the proceeds and take them to the 2013 MASC/MAHS State Conference where more than 1,500 students will be bringing in change and sending Barber “warm fuzzies” or small notes.
Sophomore Justin Sutherland met Barber in high school and has been involved in the campaign through sending positive tweets and helping to raise funds. He also understands what Barber is going through.
“Both the fact that he’s a friend of mine and the fact that I’m a cancer survivor really pushed me to do it,” the Riverview native said.
Sutherland said he knows what it’s like to go through chemotherapy and hopes to not only support Barber but spread hope for others with cancer as well.
“The money part of it, obviously, is going to go to Zach and his family to help with the medical costs,” Sutherland said. “The rest is not only to make Zach happy and give him hope but to also spread cancer awareness.”
Palmer said he was surprised at the huge response the campaign has been getting from CMU students and others.
“He’s never been a student here,” Palmer said. “The fact that CMU has gone above and beyond to become involved is really great, because there’s a lot of students that do go here, are connected to him and really care a lot about him … There have been tweets from people with this hash tag that go here that have never met him.”
Palmer said students can get involved through donating change in the Greek community or writing a note and dropping it off at Barnes Hall or the Leadership Institute.
“It’s great because you don’t have to financially support (the fundraiser) if you’re not able to or if you don’t want to,” Palmer said. “You can do something as simple as one tweet or just telling somebody else the story. Spreading the word really helps.”
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