By ABBY SLANKER
North Elementary School showed its support of the Dan Ayres family by hosting a bake sale with the theme ‘Icing Out Cancer’ Nov. 20. With an overwhelming amount of cupcakes, cake pops, cookies, brownies and Rice Krispie Treats, parent volunteers set up a table in the cafeteria for the students to buy the sweet treats during their lunch time.
Ayres and his wife, Kim, have two children in the school, first-grader Grace and fourth-grader Chance. Ayres was diagnosed with colon-rectal cancer and is currently undergoing chemo and radiation treatments prior to surgery.
Lisa Weimer, who spearheaded the bake sale, said she and the other parents wanted to help in any way they could and after a successful bake sale for another family last year, she knew this was the way to go.
“North Elementary School is the smallest school in Poland, but it is the mightiest. We have such great support here. We are like a family because the school is so small. We are a very family-driven school, and when one of our families needs help, we’re there for them,” Weimer said.
Weimer also said she knew this bake sale would be doable and would get plenty of sweet donations.
“This bake sale is something that is doable. It may not raise a huge amount, but everyone can bake and therefore everyone can help the Ayres family. The support has been overwhelming. We will expand the bake sale to two days because we have so many items,” Weimer said.
Ayres and his family truly appreciate the school’s support.
“We appreciate everything they have done for us and especially the bake sale today. When you find out you have cancer, you get to know who has gone through it before you and you really find out who your friends are. This school has a lot of great teachers who have made a lot of phone calls. They have gone out of their way to help us. You never know how it is going to affect younger kids and the teachers and staff here have made sure our kids are protected. These wonderful people have taken time to talk to our children. It’s an adjustment for them, too,” Ayers said.
Kim Ayres also expressed her gratitude for the support they have received. “We have wonderful, wonderful friends. That’s what helps,” Kim said.
The Ayres also have two older children, Josh and Dustin, a Youngstown State University student and a member of the YSU band. “Josh and Dustin and close by and are a big help. With my treatment schedule, it’s nice to know they can always be there to watch and be with Grace and Chance,” Ayres said.
Ayres also talked about his diagnosis and is very optimistic about his prognosis.
“I was shocked with the diagnosis. I went in for something else but all the tests results came back normal. My doctor suggested a colonoscopy and after that I was diagnosed with stage three colon/rectal cancer. The doctor said they caught it in time. I have good days and bad days and I get really tired, but I’m not losing my hair and am not getting sick and I can eat regular food, especially Cajun, my favorite. I am not giving up without a fight. I am going to make it to live to be a grumpy old man and be a pain in my kids’ butts for a long time,” Ayres said.
As the sweets were flying off the bake sale table, the students were enjoying the treats, but were also aware they were helping a fellow North Elementary School family.
“This is a great opportunity to teach the kids a lesson about helping people and supporting people. My philosophy is pay it forward. You never know when you might need help, but we know we can count on our North Elementary School family,” Weimer said.
Weimer is also planning a Christmas collection for the Ayres family.
“I am planning a collection from the community to help with presents and gift cards for the Ayres family for Christmas. We want to make their Christmas brighter and less worrisome,” Weimer said.