BEL AIR, Md. - Inside the St. Margaret School's church, after regular mass, one of their graduates took the pulpit for a very personal speech.
Kids stirred in their seats, as Christopher Link, 16, walked up. He cracked a joke, saying he won't talk too long, soliciting a laugh from the kids in the pews.
Then he told the students he was there, sitting in the same room, listening to the same mass, and fighting cancer, Wilms Tumor, specifically. Thanks to the giving nature of his school, he and his mother who taught at the school were able to focus on his fight.
"See I know for Catholic Schools' Week, you are bringing pajamas for the Casey Cares Foundation which will really help other boys and girls who are sick and who are facing a really big struggle. I also want to thank you and tell you that a long time ago I was really sick, and my family and I faced a really big struggle too," Chris said.
"But because of the prayers and the love of my classmates at St. Margaret's School and my teachers Ms. Kelly and because of the other kids helping Casey Cares Foundation my struggle was made easier," he continued.
The devotion to giving is rooted deep in the school. They used this quote from Mother Teresa while spreading awareness for the pj drive, "It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving."
Founder of Casey Cares, Casey Baynes, is touched to see the hundreds of donations, "it is surreal to walk into these halls at St. Margaret's, where I used to walk, and to have these children so emphatically support Casey Cares," thankful to see the giving come full circle.
"When you get sick, when you have a diagnosis, everything is turned upside-down, and you have to muddle through everything that you have to do everyday and then you have to try and be an expert on making sure your kid is taken care of and it's exhausting," Chris's mom, Kelly said, "and so for other people to come in and help and lift you up, and give you time to spend with your spouse and your children in a normal environment or in a fun environment, it rejuvenates you, it rejuvenates your soul."
Kelly said the first year she started working at the school she thought she'd have to quit her job, but they worked with her. They donated certificates to clean their home, sent them food and lent emotional support.
Every year for the past 10 years, Casey Cares hosted a Pajama Party for families in the hospital, giving them cozy pjs to snuggle in, in April.
The first year, they collected about 640 pairs of pjs, last year they collected 11,000 and this year they're shooting for 13,000.