After Hanna-Mary Cook created and distributed 72 care packages to chemotherapy patients last year, her class assignment at Reedy High School was complete. Cook’s work, however, was far from done.
“It started out that I was just going to do some sort of fundraiser and one round of packages,” Cook said, “but then I decided I wanted to keep it going.”
It has made Cook’s senior year at Reedy even busier. Cook, a standout swimmer who hopes to compete at a third straight state meet in February, is now fundraising for a second round of care packages for chemotherapy patients. Cook is raising funds through the nonprofit 501(c)3 organization From Me to You, which she created in January of 2018. She did it while studying oncology pharmacy in Frisco ISD’s Independent Study and Mentorship Program, which gives students real-world experience in a chosen area of study.
The mission of From Me to You is to reduce the stress and trauma of cancer patients who are beginning chemotherapy treatments. Each care package contains items such as a notebook, so a patient can write about his or her experience, along with an activity book, hat, stress ball, lip balm, lotion and allergen-free snacks. The basket also includes a brochure with tips from patients who have undergone chemotherapy treatments, and Cook is gathering advice from the patients who received the first round of baskets to include in the second round.
T-shirts and stickers sold through the organization’s website (frommetoyoutx.org) have helped raise more than $600 for a second round of baskets, and Cook plans to purchase items, assemble baskets and deliver them this winter. At the same time, Cook is handling her high school coursework, applying to colleges and pushing herself in the pool, which she says is a stress reliever.
“It’s where I’ve made almost all of my friends, and it’s a good way to channel my competitive nature and compete individually and with a team,” Cook said.
Cook competed in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle and the 400 free relay at the 2017 state meet, and last year she competed in the 500 free at state. Reedy swim coach Jenny Beagle raves about Cook’s leadership qualities, and she’s not surprised that From Me to You has become more than a class project.
“When Hanna-Mary is involved, she’s all in and you get the very best she has to give,” Beagle said. “I truly believe her commitment to swimming and experience with sports has shown her that she has a tremendous skill set, and she couples that with a desire to help others.”
Cook is happy to see the impact of the baskets.
“I learned the difference one person can make, obviously with the help of other people,” she said. “I like how, if you put in the work to make something happen, how much it can pay off in the end.”
(This story appears in the January edition of Frisco ISD Focus Magazine. The entire magazine can be found here: https://cloud.3dissue.com/182751/189942/221760/January-2019)