Student’s mission against cancer

Published 10:36 pm Friday, November 9, 2012

King’s Fork High junior Ashley Roten is organizing a special dinner in downtown Suffolk to raise funds for the American Cancer Society. Her grandmother recently died of cancer, and she says she wants to do something positive with her grief.

While the death of a grandparent is a harrowing experience for any young person, a King’s Fork High School student is channeling her grief into a project she’s certain her grandmother would have been proud of.

Ashley Roten, a junior at King’s Fork, was devastated when her beloved grandmother died of cancer last May.

“She had two different types of cancer,” Roten said. “Breast cancer first, then colon cancer.

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“She actually passed away from the treatment, from the therapy. The radiation caused a blood clot in her legs, which went to her lungs and heart.”

With help from her little sister Taylor Roten, a ninth-grader at Lakeland High School, and boyfriend Matthew Luter, also a junior at King’s Fork, Ashley is organizing a dinner on Jan. 26 to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

The dinner will be held at The Second Floor in downtown Suffolk. “I’m trying to raise money to pay for the catering because it’s really expensive,” Ashley Roten said.

Diners will then pay for their meals, with all funds raised going to the society to help find a cure for cancer. There will also be a guest speaker from the society.

Roten was closer to her grandmother than anyone else in her life, she said. “(When she died) I was like, I’m going to do something with this terrible experience” that helps others and that her grandmother would have approved of.

“She was a very spontaneous, go-with-the-flow kind of woman. She just loved to have fun … she wasn’t going to worry about anything.”

Roten, who is on her school’s swim and softball teams and is an International Baccalaureate student, hopes the fundraising project will help others.

“I don’t want other people … out there feeling the way I did,” she said. “I was angry, I was sad, and wanted to do something about it. I wanted to do something so that my grandmother would live on.”

Roten is in the early stages of her project and looking for sponsors to help pay for the dinner. Sponsor names will be printed on the tickets, she said, and “from there it will be smooth sailing.”

She says her orthodontist has offered support, but she needs more sponsors to come forward.

“This is the first time I have done anything like this,” she said. “I do a lot of volunteering for different organizations.”

To help, contact Roten at