Students go gold for pediatric cancer at GBS game

Senior Olivia Sergot brings Cal’s Angels to NT for kids with cancer


C. Sergot

A t-shirt sale before the game raised money for Cal’s Angles

On Oct. 18, senior Olivia Sergot looked up from the grass of the footballfieldandintoaseaofgold. The student section was full of kids cheering proudly for their football team, wearing the gold t-shirts that Sergot had been selling prior to the game.

The game was part of a fundraiser for a non-profit organization for pediatric cancer called Cal’s Angels. The organization partners with 7 hospitals around the Chicago land area as well as with other companies and businesses to carry out their mission of, “Granting wishes, raising awareness and funding research to help kids fighting cancer,” according to their website.

Sergot has been battling cancer for over a year now. While on a trip to Poland with her family during the summer of 2018, she began experiencing unbearable pain.

The doctors in Poland were able to identify a tumor in her right kidney, but it wasn’t until she arrived back home that she was diagnosed with Wilms Tumor, a cancerous tumor most often found in the kidneys.

“It’s a kidney cancer that’s really common in young kids actually, so it’s pretty rare that I have it as a 16,17 -year-old-girl. It’s stage four, meaning it started growing in my right kidney and then it progressed to my lungs and my vena cava and some other surrounding lymph nodes,” said Sergot.

Wilms Tumor is known to have very high cure rates, so when Sergot was diagnosed, her outlook was rather positive.

The day Sergot was diagnosed, Cal’s Angels was there to comfort her.

“As soon as a kid is diagnosed at [Lurie’s Children’s Hospital in Chicago] they come in, because they are a Chicago organization, and they bring you this bag of comfort items. My favorite part is the blanket that they brought me,” Sergot said.

“But they bring you all of this stuff and they reassure you that there is someone else that is there to help you. Then they tell you that there is a wish, so they give you, I think it’s $1,000 to do whatever you want with.”

Sergot used her wish to see Billie Eilish in concert with some friends and her sister.

After seeing how much Cal’s Angels had helped her, that’s when Sergot decided to get involved with the organization herself.

The president of the organization, Stacey Sutter, started Cal’s Angels after her son, Cal Sutter, passed away from Acute Myelogenous Leukemia in 2006 at the age of 13.

“He was always more concerned about the well-being of the other children fighting cancer than he was about himself,” according to the Cal’s Angels website.

During the months of September and early October, Cal’s Angels goes to different schools and “turns them gold” for a week. They sell shirts and give various gold sports gear and items to different sports and activities, including football, throughout the school in order to raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer.

“We only did the one game, but hopefully next year we will have the whole week,” said Sergot.

After beating Glenbrook South 31 to 13, New Trier had raised over $7,000 for Cal’s Angels.

Sergot can always be seen with a smile on her face radiating optimism. Her diagnosis has not changed her outlook.

“I think, as much as a negative thing it is in itself, the only effects it’s had on my life and myself have been positive. I think I’ve just grown and blossomed into the most authentic version of myself,” Sergot said.

“And I always say I choose to live my life unapologetically and just kind of do things that make me happy, surround myself with people that make me happy and just kind of live in the moment and take everything for what it is,” said Sergot.

Sergot’s ability to look at the bright side of everything is one of her most conspicuous traits.

Senior Claudia Shevitz is one of Sergot’s closest friends. Shevitz helped sell the gold T-shirts during lunch periods, make posters to promote the sale, and set up for the gold game.

Shevitz admires her friend’s resilience and vivacity.

“She loves just living,” Shevitz explained.

Senior Minnie Hauser is another close friend of Sergot. Hauser believes Sergot is the strongest person she knows.

“After visiting her in the hospital I was inspired by how strong she was and how she just smiled through everything,” said Hauser.

Sergot’s friends and family all know her to be strong, positive, and inspiring to all.

She has turned her diagnosis into an opportunity to make an impact on the world and the people around her.

“The more people that tell me I inspire them, the more I want to get my message out there, and tell people about my story, and educate people about what they can do to help kids like me,” said Sergot.

“It makes me feel really good. It makes me feel like I’ve achieved something.”