Students at Berks Career and Technology Center East Campus in Oley used the training and skills they have learned to work for a larger cause, raising funds for cancer research.

Cosmetology students spent all day on Dec. 4 in their salon offering various hair and nail services in an effort to raise money for cancer research and awareness through the Cuts for Cancer Cut-A-Thon, an annual fundraiser.

Kutztown Area High School students Ramsi Ross and Anna Battin worked together to organize the Cut-A-Thon as their senior project at BCTC. The seniors teamed up with Exeter High students Aaron Sadrovitz and Emily Dunning, along with the rest of the cosmetology students at BCTC, who helped cut and style hair, give manicures, and sell food and T-shirts.

“All the proceeds went towards small cell cervical cancer, which is the cancer that my sister died of,” said Ross.

Ross’s sister, Desiree Swiemler, suffered from one of the rarest types of cervical cancer, accounting for less than 1 percent of all cases of cervical cancer. Due to the rarity of the diagnosis, the cause of this disease is unknown, and treatment is unreliable, which makes funding for research very important.

“We did haircuts, manicures, and blow dry styles, and we sold food and T-shirts. Between all that and donations, we raised a total of about $1,800,” said Ross.

The fundraiser wasn’t just focused on Swiemler or Ross, though. As Battin explained, the importance of spreading support for and awareness of cancer of all types is extremely important, as it touches everyone’s life in some way.

“Cancer has affected so many people. My aunt and grandmother both died of cancer, too, so yes, it was for [Ross’s] sister, but because it has affected so many other people, [it meant more],” said Battin.

This year it was Ross and Battin’s project, but every year a different group of students takes on the Cut-A-Thon, giving it a slightly different twist each time.

“One group of seniors will do this every year, and we by far have made the most money and had the most people walk through the door,” said Ross. “We had about 145 people who came through the doors that day, which was a huge turnout.”

Those 145 people contributed close to $2,000 for the cause.

“I think it raised awareness about what just a small group of seniors can really do, because nobody helped us; it was just us who did everything and got everyone there. I think that just shows how well we can work together and how our generation really is,” said Ross, “and I think we really can make a change.”

BCTC is a school dedicated to preparing students to be employable immediately after high school. They offer programs ranging from medical and emergency services to culinary arts to construction and automotive repair. The school’s two campuses offer education to students across Berks County, with two sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, being held each school day.

The Cut-A-Thon is just one way that BCTC students get involved in their communities. Many students work on projects as large as building a house, which requires aid from a large variety of occupations at the school, including electricians, plumbers, and carpenters.

For 12 hours on Dec. 4, though, a different group of students was able to put their skills to work in the real world and to make an impact at the very same time.

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