Fight for FrauNew Life Academy came together recently to help its beloved friend and German teacher Frau Cheri Thomas in her battle against cancer. As part of the “Fight for Frau,” the New Life Academy boys basketball team held a fundraiser on Friday, Feb. 11, during the Eagles home game against Trinity.
By: Patrick Johnson, Staff Writer, Woodbury Bulletin
When you’re in a fight, it helps to have friends.
New Life Academy came together recently to help its beloved friend and German teacher Frau Cheri Thomas in her battle against cancer.
As part of the “Fight for Frau,” the New Life Academy boys basketball team held a fundraiser on Friday, Feb. 11, during the Eagles home game against Trinity.
New Life Academy donated $1 from each admission to the game to Thomas, along with a special collection of change that those in attendance put in a collection bucket called “Change For A Cure.” The Eagles also held a special halftime event during the game. Those in attendance were able to purchase paper airplanes for $1. The planes were tossed toward prizes stationed on the Curt Wetsel court with the closest airplane to each prize winning that prize. Prizes were donated and raised by NLA families. All the money raised from the airplane toss went to Thomas.
“She is a wonderful teacher who has touched so many kids in her time at NLA that we wanted to do someone special for her as a team,” New Life Academy head boys basketball coach Doug Linton said.
Thomas is in her 11th year at New Life Academy.
She said the school’s show of support was “amazing.”
“I was not wanting to come,” Thomas said. “I said I would do it if I could wear a brown paper bag on my head. I don’t want the attention. But, because I love these kids it wasn’t embarrassing. It was just a lot of fun.”
Wetsel, the NLA Activities Director for the past 31 years, said Thomas is very important to the school.
“She has been here a number of years now and the kids love her very dearly, she is one of their favorite teachers,” Wetsel said. “She teaches German, but more importantly, she teaches a lot of life lessons to our kids. She is highly respected by her peers and I just can’t say enough about her.”
Thomas has been away from NLA for roughly a month.
She has been receiving chemotherapy treatment at the Cancer Treatment Center of America in Zion, Ill., just outside of Chicago. However, she is now planning on receiving her treatment at the oncology unit at Woodwinds Hospital in Woodbury.
“I love being here,” Thomas said. “I love my job and I really love the kids. It’s very hard to be at home and not be here. But, I also know that on a typical day I can’t get out of bed before 8:30. It hurts and it takes about an hour-and-a-half for the pain to go away. I just can’t do it right now. That’s the hard part.”
Thomas said it felt nostalgic being back inside New Life Academy.
“It makes me sad, because I want to be back here,” Thomas said. “But it makes me glad to know I have a wonderful sub working for me and with me. I do think sometime this week or next week I can be there a little bit to help out.”
New Life Academy is a faith-based school with an enrollment of 207 from ninth grade through 12th grade. But, the private school also houses elementary and middle school students.
Thomas and Wetsel both said there is a great camaraderie among the people at New Life Academy. Wetsel said he wants the NLA community to be there to support Thomas and her family as her bigger family.
“Everyone has their biological family of course, but as part of our faith-based community we consider ourselves a bigger family,” Wetsel said. “When one hurts we all hurt. When one rejoices we all rejoice. We’re here to support ourselves through the good things and bad things. I think that’s really important.”
The game and fundraiser were during New Life Academy’s School Spirit and Spiritual Emphasis week.
“This is a good school and has been a very special week for us,” Wetsel said. “We set aside some extra time to deal with the deeper issues of life. So, it’s been a special week for us.”
Prior to the boys basketball game Friday, the team held its normal pre-game prayer, where everyone said a special blessing for Thomas.
“It’s never easy,” Wetsel said. “Difficult things in life like this are always very hard to deal with. But, our school family our faith is significant and we pray to God’s grace and His blessings on her. We pray that she will be healed, but if God choose not to do that that God be graceful and merciful.”
Thomas said she is fighting, but said she is also ready to face whatever is “God’s will.”
“Nobody knows the mind of God, but God Himself,” Thomas said. “I accept whatever His plans are. I’m all for fighting, but you’re not going to go and smash your head against a door — that would be really dumb. You do what you think God is leading you toward doing. You have to do what is in His will.”